Congratulations! You’re expecting a child! The last thing on your mind is your oral health. However, it should be first and foremost. Practicing great oral hygiene before, during, and after your pregnancy is imperative to prevent health issues for you and your baby.
First, we’ll discuss some misconceptions regarding oral health and pregnancy.
- It’s unsafe for a pregnant woman to visit the dentist- FALSE
It’s extremely important for a pregnant woman to visit her dentist regularly, just as she would if she weren’t pregnant. Furthermore, your dentist may have you come in more often during your pregnancy if you are experiencing gingivitis. X-rays aren’t generally taken during pregnancy, and many procedures are postponed until after delivery. There’s no reason to fear harm to the baby if you go to the dentist.
- Massive amounts of Calcium are lost during pregnancy to support the growing baby- FALSE.
We hear this quite often in the Dental office. Calcium isn’t moved from the teeth to other parts of the body to support the growing baby. Most Dental problems that occur during pregnancy are due to hormonal changes. Your physician will prescribe a prenatal vitamin which will support healthy growth and development of the baby.
Secondly, we’ll examine the oral health risks during pregnancy.
- Gingivitis (Inflammation and bleeding of the Gums)- the most prevalent issue during pregnancy is Gingivitis due to increased levels of the hormone progesterone in the blood. This hormone increases acid production in the mouth. Symptoms include bleeding, red, and swollen gums that bleed spontaneously or during brushing and flossing. While reversible, gingivitis shouldn’t be ignored. It can progress into Periodontitis which isn’t reversible. This increased acid in the mouth can also transfer to the unborn baby increasing the risk for low birth weight or premature birth.
- Tooth Decay (Cavities)- another dental issue during pregnancy is an increase in Cavities, especially if you experience morning sickness and frequent vomiting. Vomiting increases acid in the mouth which breaks down tooth enamel. It’s extremely important not to brush your teeth following vomiting. Brushing while having acid on the teeth can cause further breakdown. The best thing you can do is rinse with plain water to neutralize the acid.
Pregnancy should be a glorious time in your life. Being informed and cautious will ensure the best outcome for you and your baby. Visit your Dentist and follow their recommendations before, during, and after your pregnancy.