Pregnancy is an exciting time for Mom and Dad as your baby begins to grow. Not only is this time exciting, but it can be filled with many decisions and new information. Simply put, pregnancy can feel a bit scary as there are so many new decisions and things to know.
One of the many changes that may occur in a woman’s body when pregnant are changes to her oral health. Let us help prepare you for these potential changes by explaining more below. We will delve into what to expect during pregnancy for oral health and the associated risks, so that expectant mothers can maintain their smiles throughout this remarkable journey.
Oral Health Changes During Pregnancy: What to Expect
Pregnancy leads to a surge in hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal fluctuations can contribute to several oral health changes:
- Gingivitis: The increased hormones can make gums more susceptible to inflammation, leading to pregnancy gingivitis. Symptoms may include redness, swelling, tenderness, and bleeding gums during brushing or flossing.
- Dry Mouth: Hormonal changes can also lead to dry mouth, which can contribute to tooth decay and gum problems. Saliva plays a crucial role in neutralizing acids and protecting teeth and, therefore, when saliva decreases issues may arise.
- Pregnancy Tumors: In some cases, benign growths known as “pregnancy tumors” may develop on the gums, usually in the second trimester. These growths are non-cancerous and typically resolve after childbirth.
- Morning Sickness: Many expectant mothers experience morning sickness, which involves vomiting and acidic stomach contents coming into contact with teeth. This acid exposure can lead to enamel erosion and heightened tooth sensitivity.
Cravings and Diet
Pregnancy cravings can often include sugary or acidic foods, which, when consumed in excess, can increase the risk of dental cavities. Maintaining a balanced diet is essential for both maternal and fetal health.
Increased Blood Flow
Pregnancy can result in increased blood flow to the gums, causing them to become more sensitive and prone to bleeding. This makes oral hygiene even more critical.
Oral Health Risks During Pregnancy
Some pregnant women may develop gestational diabetes, which can increase the risk of gum disease. Conversely, periodontal disease may also contribute to gestational diabetes.
Preterm Birth and Low Birth Weight
While the link is not fully understood, there is evidence to suggest that severe gum disease may be associated with preterm birth and low birth weight. Maintaining good oral health during pregnancy is crucial to mitigate this potential risk.
If you already have dental issues before pregnancy, such as cavities or gum disease, it’s essential to address them early on. Pregnancy can exacerbate these conditions, so proper treatment and maintenance are key.
Oral Health Recommendations for Expectant Mothers
Regular Dental Check-ups: Schedule a dental visit before or early in pregnancy to address any existing dental issues. Inform your dentist about your pregnancy. Learn more about visiting the dentist while pregnant.
Maintain Excellent Oral Hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to avoid gum irritation.
Rinse After Vomiting: If you experience morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash to neutralize stomach acids.
Balanced Diet: Focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Minimize sugary and acidic snacks and drinks.
Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to combat dry mouth.
Manage Stress: High stress levels can affect oral health. Engage in relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation to alleviate stress.
A Healthy Smile and a Healthy Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a beautiful and transformative journey, and maintaining good oral health during this time is crucial for both the expectant mother and her baby. Regular dental check-ups, excellent oral hygiene practices, and a balanced diet are essential in ensuring a healthy smile during this magical time. Remember, a healthy smile is not only a gift to yourself but also to your growing family.