Pregnancy and Dental Care
At our dental practice we often receive questions from expecting mothers, so the team here at Hitek Family Dental Care put together this helpful guide for expecting mothers and what they need to know about their oral health. While many of the physical changes that accompany pregnancy are well-known to expectant mothers, there is one area that is frequently overlooked: Oral health. Becoming pregnant is known to affect the gums, raising the risk of certain gum diseases, as well as sometimes leading to enamel damage due to morning sickness. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure that you have a mouth-healthy pregnancy; possible issues and their solutions are outlined below:
Pregnancy often causes the gums to swell and bleed more easily; both pregnancy hormones and an altered immune system which allows for greater bacteria growth in the mouth are thought to contribute to this change. While some women only experience minor issues, others may develop the more severe swelling and bleeding known as “pregnancy gingivitis”.
To prevent pregnancy gingivitis, consume foods which do not promote bacterial growth within the mouth (foods and beverages low in sugar and carbohydrates) and practice good oral hygiene, such as brushing twice per day and flossing at least once per day. Using an antimicrobial mouthwash is also recommended.
Pregnancy granulomas are relatively rare benign growths which occur on the gums of some pregnant women. Though they are usually harmless and may often be left in place (they will vanish naturally after the baby is born), these small red nodules may cause pain and discomfort significant enough to necessitate removal. As most pregnant women wish to minimize their need for medical procedures, it’s best to try to prevent pregnancy granulomas from forming through practicing good oral hygiene (as outlined above).
If you have severe morning sickness which lasts longer than one trimester, you will be at risk of enamel erosion, which leaves your teeth vulnerable to caries-causing bacteria. If you’re concerned about how your morning sickness may be affecting your teeth, talk to your dentist; he or she may be able to recommend preventative treatments such as special toothpastes or coatings. Also, note that you should never brush your teeth immediately after vomiting as this speeds enamel loss; instead, rinse your mouth out with a mixture of baking soda and water to reduce acidity.
Many pregnant women find that their mouths feel dry much of the time. This is not only uncomfortable, it also raises your risk of caries and gingivitis as saliva plays a key role in washing away food particles and bacteria. You should therefore combat dry mouth by drinking plenty of water and by chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva secretion and keep your mouth moist. For an added bonus, make sure that the gum contains xylitol; this chemical reduces the presence of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
As a final note, if you plan to become pregnant, be aware that the best way to ensure good oral health is to have a complete dental checkup before you become pregnant; this way, you can get any dental work you need taken care of ahead of time.