Dental Health During Pregnancy: What to Know and Expect

Being pregnant with a new bundle of joy is a life changing experience that you are so lucky to be going through. Congratulations to you and your family!

While there are many changes that you are currently making with your diet and lifestyle, one aspect that is often overlooked is oral hygiene. Did you know that your oral hygiene during pregnancy has a direct effect on your health and your growing and developing unborn baby?

What Changes Should I Expect to Happen to My Oral Health While I Am Pregnant?

Taking excellent care of your teeth and gums is essential not only for your health but also for the health of your baby. Do not be alarmed if you experience significant changes to your oral health during the nine months of pregnancy. This happens frequently and makes it imperative to keep your mouth happy and healthy! See a dentist before pregnancy to ensure that you are properly taking care of your oral hygiene.

One of the most common oral health conditions that happens during pregnancy is ‘pregnancy gingivitis,’ which is caused by the hormonal changes that your body is undergoing. These drastic hormone changes cause a more severe reaction to dental plaque than normal resulting in an increased amount of swelling, bleeding, and redness of the gums. The most common timeframe for ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ to happen is during the second and third month of pregnancy.

While it did not use to be viewed as an emanate threat to the health of the baby, within recent years, research has found that babies of women who do not adequately adjust their oral hygiene while being pregnant are being born prematurely and at a lower birth weight.

Gum Problems Associated with Pregnancy

The increase in hormones pumping through your body during pregnancy makes some women more susceptible to gum problems such as:

  • Gingivitis (gum inflammation) which can be best prevented by brushing and flossing daily
  • Pregnancy Epulis or Pyogenic Granuloma is simply lumps on the gum, tongue, or cheek. Keep in mind UNDER 5% of the pregnant population will suffer from this condition.
  • Un-diagnosed or Untreated Periodontal Disease caused by continued, untreated gingivitis.

Please get your gums checked by a dentist after you have given birth as most gum problems resolve themselves after birth. However, there is a handful of women who will develop a deeper level of gum disease, and treatment will be needed to resolve the issue.

The Inevitable Vomiting That Accompanies Pregnancy Can Damage Your Teeth

The stomach acids that reach the mouth due to gastric re-flux or morning sickness can coat your teeth and begin damaging your tooth enamel leading to increased risk of tooth decay. We know that vomiting during pregnancy is uncontrollable, so here are some suggestions to reduce the negative effects that vomiting can cause.

  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water (plain not sparkling) immediately following vomiting
  • Brush your teeth within an hour after vomiting; avoid brushing your teeth immediately following vomiting as tooth brushing while your teeth are covered in stomach acid may scratch the tooth enamel.
  • Rinse your mouth with fluoride mouthwash; if you do not have fluoride mouthwash, rub a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on your teeth, and rinse with water.

How to Best Prevent Pregnancy-Related Dental Problems

The best way to combat dental problems during pregnancy is to have already established good oral hygiene habits before becoming pregnant. The best way to integrate good habits into your daily routine include:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes (the 2X2 rule)
  • Floss between your teeth
  • Schedule and attend regular dental visits – do not miss these visits while pregnant
  • Increase your daily amount of calcium. Good sources include milk, cheese, and unsweetened yogurt
  • Increase our daily Vitamin D amount. Good sources include cheese, fatty fish, and eggs

Make Sure to Inform Your Dentist That You Are Pregnant

Outside of your daily oral hygiene routine, making sure that your dentist is aware that you are pregnant is of utmost importance. While x-rays and dental procedures used to not be performed while the patient is pregnant, with today’s technology, both x-rays and most procedures can be safely performed. Making sure your dentist knows about your pregnancy will help them create a safe environment for your procedure or x-ray.

Your dentist will also monitor your oral health, especially the health of your gums, over the nine months of pregnancy. Additional visits might be suggested during that time frame to ensure your oral health is staying positive.

If you have additional questions about proper oral hygiene throughout pregnancy, give our team a call at Michael J. Leach D.D.S. Pediatric Dentistry Phone Number (770) 521-8855.