Women experience many physical and physiological changes during pregnancy that can adversely affect oral health. However, proper dental care can help ward off tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental conditions. According to both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Dental Association, oral health care during pregnancy is safe and highly recommended.
How Pregnancy Affects Your Smile
During pregnancy, rapid hormone changes in the body increase the acidity in the mouth, increasing a woman’s risk of enamel erosion and cavities. These risks can increase further due to normal pregnancy cravings that result in an increase in sugar intake.
It is also common for the bones and ligaments in the mouth to temporarily loosen during pregnancy. While this loosening is not usually enough to cause tooth loss, it can come as an unexpected surprise to expecting moms.
The third trimester of pregnancy can be particularly tough on your teeth. An inflammatory response within the body increases the amount of plaque and bacteria on the teeth, resulting in possible bleeding and swelling of the gums. These bacteria can also release harmful toxins that can contribute to an infection of the bones or gums.
Dental Care During Your Pregnancy
Poor dental habits during pregnancy have been associated with problems like gestational diabetes, premature delivery, preeclampsia, and intrauterine growth. To lower your risk of developing these conditions, continue a healthy hygiene regimen that involves brushing twice a day using fluoride toothpaste and flossing between your teeth. When shopping, look for dental products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Morning sickness is a common occurrence with pregnancy. Despite its name, morning sickness can hit any time of the day and may linger for hours. Vomit contains stomach acids that can eat away at tooth enamel and cause symptoms like tooth sensitivity. To minimize the damage from these acids, rinse your mouth out with water after each bout of morning sickness. Wait about 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
When you already feel tired and sick, brushing your teeth may be the last thing you want to do. Oftentimes, pregnant women complain of gagging when they brush which can make it difficult to achieve a deep clean. When this happens, consider changing the flavor of your toothpaste to something more palatable. You may also want to temporarily switch to a toothbrush with a smaller head.
There has been much debate regarding the safeness of x-rays during pregnancy and whether expecting moms should wait until after they have given birth. Dental x-rays are generally considered safe during pregnancy. During x-rays, you’ll be covered with a protective apron that minimizes exposure to your abdomen. Of course, pregnant women can opt-out of this procedure if desired.
Some women also wonder if it is safe to undergo dental procedures like crown placement and cavity fillings during pregnancy. Most routine procedures can be safely performed during pregnancy and are recommended to prevent a potential infection. However, cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening should be postponed until after the baby arrives.
There is a direct correlation between what you eat and the health of your teeth. Eat a healthy diet to keep your teeth strong and your gums healthy. Establish a balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and foods low in sodium and saturated fat. Keep your sugar intake low as sugar aids in the growth of plaque which can contribute to tooth decay.
Schedule a Visit with Your Dentist in Clermont
Our experts recommend that pregnant women continue to see their Clermont dental practice at least every six months. Signs of oral health problems, such as bleeding or swollen gums, chronic bad breath, receding gums, pain when chewing or biting, sudden sensitivity to hot or cold, or sores, ulcers, or tender areas in the mouth that do not heal should be promptly evaluated by a professional at Hancock Village Dental.
With proper dental care and supervision by your Clermont family dentistry practice, expecting moms can maintain a healthy smile throughout pregnancy. For more information about dental care during pregnancy or to schedule a visit with an experienced Clermont dentist, contact Hancock Village Dental today.