When you’re pregnant, there’s a lot going through your mind and to plan for. Your dental health may become an afterthought when there are obstetrician visits and other doctor appointments.
However, it’s important for expecting moms to make sure their mouth is healthy during their pregnancy. Pregnancy’s hormone fluctuations can make moms-to-be more susceptible to gingivitis and tooth decay.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the number of American women seeing the dentist while pregnant is on the rise. Read on to learn about how pregnancy affects your mouth’s health and the concerns you may have about having dental work during pregnancy.
Pregnancy and Common Dental Problems
Your body’s fluctuating hormones can cause changes in your mouth during this time. One of the most common dental problems pregnant women face is an increased chance of developing gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.
Up to half of all pregnant women develop gingivitis while pregnant. Your gums may bleed when you floss or brush their teeth. They may also become more irritated by plague than usual and be red, puffy, and sore.
A dental checkup while pregnant will include a periodontal exam to access your gums’ health. This will include checking the space between your gums and teeth to determine if you have gum disease.
If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease. This advanced stage of gum disease can actually cause loose teeth and tooth loss.
The condition has also been linked to low birth weight and premature delivery in babies. Bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and be carried to an unborn baby.
Cavities are also a dental issue that pregnant women need to be aware of. Sometimes this is because they’re eating a high carbohydrate diet, as carb-heavy foods tend to stick to teeth.
Tooth decay may also be caused by pregnancy-related morning sickness. Vomiting brings up stomach acid which can wear away at teeth’s enamel, making them weaker and more prone to cavities.
These two common issues are why you should let your dental office know you’re pregnant.
See Your Dentist Early in Your Pregnancy
If you’ve recently discovered you’re expecting, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment to see your dentist as soon as you can if you don’t already have one for your regular check-up and cleaning.
Having your teeth and gums examined early in your pregnancy will detect if you have any problems that need to be dealt with before they become serious. The dentist can also tell if you have gingivitis or other gum problems to be addressed. They’ll also check your current dental restorations to make sure they’re still in good shape.
If x-rays are required, the dental staff will drape a lead apron over your chest and stomach to shield you and the baby from radiation.
Can I Receive Dental Work During Pregnancy?
It’s safe for dentists to perform dental work on expectant moms. This includes fillings, crowns, root canals, and other common procedures. It’s much better to have work done sooner rather than later to prevent a problem from getting worse.
While you’re in the dentist’s chair getting work done, try to resist crossing your legs as it can reduce your circulation. Relax and focus on your breathing. Your dentist will be able to administer a local anesthetic to numb the area of the mouth being worked on.
What If I Get a Toothache While Pregnant?
Toothaches are not pleasant. Tooth pain can range from a twinge that comes and goes to constant, excruciating pain.
If you experience a toothache or any other kind of dental emergency while pregnant, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible. The most common cause of a toothache is decay that has spread to the tooth’s pulp, the area that contains the nerves and blood supply.
When this happens, infection and often an abscess will develop. The bacteria from this infection can easily travel throughout your body and pose a risk for your unborn child. The stress that you feel from a toothache also puts stress on the baby as well.
Your dentist should be safely able to perform a root canal (if the tooth can be saved) or an extraction (if it is too far damaged) without any harm to your baby. During a root canal, the decayed and infected parts of the tooth including the inside of the roots are removed to stop the infection and relieve a toothache.
Your dentist may consult your obstetrician to confirm that they can perform dental work on you.
Until your dentist appointment, you can temporarily ease toothache pain by taking Tylenol and by placing a drop or two of clove oil onto the painful tooth.
Eat Healthy and Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Two of the most important things you can do when pregnant to keep your smile healthy and bright is to eat foods that are good for your teeth and keep up your oral hygiene.
Limit your intake of sugary and sticky foods such as candy, soda, fruit juice, baked goods, crackers, and dried fruit. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help neutralize your mouth until you can brush your teeth.
Eat calcium-packed foods such as cheese, milk, yogurt, kale, and tofu. They will not only keep your teeth strong but help your growing baby form strong teeth. Cheese, in particular, makes a great snack in between meals because it neutralizes acids in the mouth that can contribute to cavities.
Floss every single day. It’s the best defense against developing gingivitis and swollen gums. You can also use a high powered water pick to flush food debris from between teeth and underneath gums.
Brush twice a day using fluoride toothpaste and soft-bristled toothbrush held at a 45-degree angle. Remember not to brush too hard. Gently scrub teeth and the gum line in circular motions.
An electric toothbrush may also remove more plaque than a manual one.
Keep Your Smile Healthy During and After Your Pregnancy
Visiting your dentist for a check-up and cleaning and receiving dental work during pregnancy will ensure good overall health for you and your growing baby.
If you are expecting, our caring and friendly staff look forward to seeing you. Contact us to schedule an appointment and download our patient form before your visit.