Oral health is an important part of everyone’s life and overall health. This is especially true for our patients who are eating and drinking for two! Pregnancy can be hard on the body and this includes the teeth and gums. At Robert J. Mysse Family Dentistry, we want everyone to be happy and healthy and this is especially important for our pregnant patients. In today’s article we will be discussing oral health during pregnancy.
Common Symptoms During Pregnancy that Affect Your Oral Health
Pregnancy can induce or exacerbate certain types of oral health problems. Gum problems, vomiting, sugary cravings, and retching – all of these side-effects of pregnancy can cause issues with your oral health.
Sometimes the surge in hormones that come with pregnancy can make women susceptible to certain types of gum problems including gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontal disease (gum disease). If you already have issues with your gums, especially with undiagnosed or untreated periodontal disease, pregnancy might worsen this condition. The gum problems that occur during pregnancy are generally not caused by increased plaque but a worse response to the plaque because of the increased hormones. Gingivitis tends to occur most often during the second trimester. Symptoms include swelling and bleeding gums (especially common when you brush or floss your teeth). Gingivitis left untreated can lead to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease during pregnancy can show up as gum swellings, known as pregnancy epulis.
Sometimes the surge in hormones that come with pregnancy can make women susceptible to certain types of gum problems including gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontal disease.The gum problems that occur during pregnancy, however, are not caused by increased plaque but a worse response to the plaque because of the increased hormones. The gingivitis tends to occur during the second trimester and symptoms include swelling and bleeding gums (especially common when you brush or floss your teeth). “Pregnancy gingivitis” affects most pregnant women and generally begins as early as the
Vomiting is a common side-effect of pregnancy, especially during the first trimester when morning sickness often occurs. Stomach acid from repeated vomiting can damage the tooth enamel and increase the risk of decay.
Some things you can do to prevent this from being an issue are not brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting (the toothbrush might scratch the tooth enamel which will be immediately weakened by the stomach acid). You should wait at least an hour before brushing your teeth, instead, rinse your mouth out with plain tap water. Then you should use a fluoridated mouthwash or toothpaste (if you choose to use the toothpaste you should smear it over your teeth with your finger and then rinse with water).
Oftentimes, pregnant women will have cravings that aren’t the best for their teeth. The best thing, of course, would be to ignore the cravings for sugar, but sometimes it’s too difficult to do so.
If that’s the case try to opt for healthier options like fruit. No matter what sugary snack you opt for try to rinse your mouth out with water and/or brush your teeth afterwards.
During pregnancy, some women may find that brushing their teeth (especially the molars) make them retch. However, you shouldn’t let this dissuade you from brushing your teeth regularly. So what can you do to get past this? Some women find it easier to brush their teeth with a toothbrush with a smaller head (like toothbrushes made for toddlers). Sometimes closing your eyes and slowing down the brushing helps, as does listening to calming music while you brush. If the taste of the toothpaste is what is causing you to retch, then try switching to a different brand/flavor of toothpaste.
Dental Care During Pregnancy
Try to go to the dentist before getting pregnant so your teeth can be professionally cleaned and other oral health problems can be treated in advance.
Dental care during pregnancy will be quite different than other times you go to the dentist – that’s why it’s important to tell your dentist about your pregnancy as soon as possible.
During the first and third trimester of pregnancy, the baby is in the most critical stages of development and most vulnerable. Because of this we recommend scheduling your dental treatments during the second trimester in an effort to avoid any treatments that might harm the mother or child. We also recommend that all elective dental procedures wait until after delivery.
Oral Health and Your Baby
There are reports that suggest that your dental health can affect your baby’s health. Periodontitis is associated with early onset labor and preterm birth. Recent reports suggest that 18 out of every 100 premature births might be triggered by periodontitis. If you treat periodontitis early it can lower the risk by more than 80%.
If you’re pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, call our offices to an arrange an appointment so we can discuss what we can do to prevent any possible health issues during your pregnancy. It’s important for both you and your baby to be happy and healthy. Call Robert J. Mysse Family Dentistry at (512) 310-1500 to arrange an appointment.