Being pregnant is an exciting time. It is also a time that brings with it some rather big changes to the mother’s body. There is a lot to consider, such as your diet, the supplemental vitamins you are taking, your exercise, your OB/GYN visits, and so forth. With all of that going on, what often gets overlooked is your oral health and how being pregnant can affect your pregnancy and how dental issues you may already be experiencing or may now be susceptible to, such as gum disease and pregnancy tumors, can affect your unborn child. Let us explore these factors and what you should consider.
Your body requires certain hormones to have a baby. Those same hormones can affect your mood, make your bladder seem tinier than ever, and cause you to experience intense and even unusual food cravings. Another potential symptom is swollen gums, which is a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis—gum disease. You want to maintain your regular dental cleaning and checkup schedule during pregnancy, and if you notice that your gums are red, swollen, or bleed more easily while brushing or flossing, the American Pregnancy Association recommends that you schedule a dental visit right away.
It is not unusual for a dentist to recommend more frequent cleanings while pregnant. Your dentist may also recommend that you adjust your regular oral hygiene routine. The general advice still applies: You should brush twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush using fluoride toothpaste. You should also floss daily, and you should be mindful that if your gums are swelling, it can make it trickier than usual to get food particles from between the teeth and from between the teeth and gums.
It is not uncommon for pregnant women to develop pregnancy tumors, which is an unfortunate name because the condition is not nearly as horrible as it sounds. While not malignant, these raised bumps are worth keeping an eye on, which your dentist will do. The American Dental Association warns that they are most common during your second trimester. If they cause you discomfort, your dentist can remove them, but they are usually discomfort-free and will go away on their own after the child has been born.
Many women experience morning sickness while pregnant, and while that generally is not cause for concern, it is worth noting that it can do a number on your teeth and gums. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) warns that the acids from your stomach can lead to tooth erosion, just as chronic acid reflux can. Acid reflux is another concern while pregnant. When you do get sick, rinse your mouth afterward with a mixture of 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda, which will help neutralize the acid. After rinsing with this mixture, you can brush your teeth normally. If you are experiencing heartburn or acid reflux, you will want to discuss this with your doctor as well as your dentist.
Even when not pregnant, you should see your dentist twice a year. While pregnant, do not be alarmed or surprised if your dentist recommends a more frequent schedule. Let your dentist know you are pregnant as soon as possible. Your dentist can make personalized recommendations. In the event you need dental work, the American Pregnancy Association advises doing it during the second trimester, and your dentist can help you decide when to have work performed based on your unique circumstances.
Teeth cleanings are perfectly safe while pregnant and highly recommended. Dental X-rays are perfectly safe, as well. The ACOG urges women to do it and advises OB/GYNs to discuss it with their patients. This helps to ensure your good oral health and protect your baby, but it serves a perhaps less obvious purpose as well. Dentists are often integral to the early diagnoses of health complications with symptoms that manifest orally. Your dentist can coordinate with your other doctors and refer you to specialists as needed.
Emphasize Oral Hygiene as Part of Your Pregnancy Care
Oral health is an oft-overlooked but important aspect of taking care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy. Regular cleanings and checkups prior to getting pregnant are essential to your health, and as soon as you realize you are pregnant, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, can evaluate your oral health and provide you personalized oral care advice throughout your pregnancy. Call Scottsdale Dental Excellence at 480 585 1853 to schedule your appointment.