Dental Health and Pregnancy

Dental Health and Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of wonder and worry for many women and their families. You could be a first-time mum or a third-time veteran and still have questions because every pregnancy is different. When it comes to your smile and your oral health, you might want some more information on what to expect while you’re expecting.

Dental health during pregnancy

It’s important to take care of your teeth before you get pregnant but dental health is also a vital part of your prenatal care. Some dental health concerns, such as severe tooth decay or gum disease, could lead to increased risk of complications to your pregnancy such as preterm labor.

Contrary to popular opinion, dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy but are typically only used in the case of a dental emergency. If you are concerned, ask your dentist or dental hygienist for more information at your check-up.

What is dental health and how does it affect pregnancy?

Studies have shown a connection between poor dental health, preterm labor and low birth weight due to an increased risk of infection and inflammation. Preterm labor is considered to be any birth that occurs before 37 weeks. Babies born this early often face serious health problems at birth which can have life-long consequences.

Taking care of your diet, teeth, and gums during your pregnancy gives you a higher chance of carrying to term and avoiding a premature birth.

How does pregnancy affect your dental health?

Hormonal changes, such as raised levels of progesterone and estrogen, in your body, increase your chance of oral health complications. Elevated estrogen and progesterone increase blood flow to the gums causing hypersensitivity to plaque build-up putting pregnant women at a higher risk for gum disease.

These same hormones also reduce the amount of available folate in the body which slows down the immune response leaving the body unable to repair damaged gum tissue.

Hormones can also increase the chance of cravings, changing your eating habits. Changes to your eating habits can negatively affect your dental health.

You could find yourself brushing and flossing your teeth less than you did prior to your pregnancy due to feeling exhausted or because brushing and flossing could leave you feeling nauseated.

Prevention of certain dental problems like cavities and gingivitis is key as these conditions can pass bacteria through the cavity into your bloodstream and consequently to your baby during pregnancy.

Gingivitis is characterized by the redness and swelling of your gums. Nearly 75% of women who get pregnant experience gingivitis. Signs and symptoms to look for are:

  • Shiny gums
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling and redness
  • Tenderness in your gums

If gingivitis is left unchecked, it can develop into periodontal disease, a severe form of gum disease. This is a serious infection that creates problems with the underlying bones that support your teeth. Damage to the bone and connective tissue can lead to your teeth becoming loose or shifting causing misalignment if left untreated. To correct any pregnancy-related alignment issues, make an appointment with an orthodontist in Kent to discuss your treatment options.

What are the signs and symptoms of dental problems during pregnancy?

If you experience discomfort or swelling, make an appointment with your dentist immediately because those symptoms could indicate an infection and you may need treatment. Symptoms of dental health problems include:

  • Mouth Sores
  • Lumps on the gums
  • New spaces between your teeth
  • Toothaches
  • Receding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Pus along your gum line

How can you prevent dental problems during pregnancy?

When you make your first prenatal appointment with your midwife or doctor, also book an appointment for a dental check-up and cleaning with your dentist or dental hygienist.

At your appointment, mention that you’re pregnant and notify them of any medication you are taking, including vitamins and supplements. If your midwife or doctor has informed you of any concerns they have regarding your oral health, you’ll want to communicate that to your dental practitioner too, so your dentist can address them.

Brush twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid gum irritation, floss gently every evening or use a water pick, and rinse with an alcohol-free, fluoridated mouthwash once per day.

If you experience severe morning sickness, it may be challenging to brush and floss your teeth and the stomach acid can damage your tooth enamel. If you can tolerate it, rinse your mouth with water or a mouthwash to help keep your oral health in check and book more frequent hygiene cleanings to remove built-up plaque and tartar.

Pregnancy can be hard to manage no matter how experienced you are as a mother. Taking care of you is vital hence, maintain a proper oral health regime, eat a balanced high-fiber, low-sugar diet, and schedule regular dental appointments.

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