How Pregnancy Affects Your Dental Health
Staff | May 2021
In many ways, pregnancy can have a massive effect on a woman’s body. We all know about the change in hormones, the stretched skin, and swollen ankles, but did you know that pregnancy can have effects on the teeth--both during pregnancy and even after the baby is born? Pregnancy can affect your teeth in a number of ways, dental issues can also have an affect on your growing baby. If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, here are some things you should be cautious of when it comes to your dental health.
Pre-pregnancy Dental Care
Even before you get pregnant, it’s important to practice good dental hygiene, i.e brushing and flossing at least twice daily, having a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco and alcohol-based foods/beverages that can stain/damage teeth, and visiting the dentist regularly. If you are undergoing any planned dental treatment and are planning to get pregnant, make sure to consult with your dentist to ensure that the treatment is pregnancy-friendly.
Research has found a link between severe gum disease in pregnant women and premature birth with low birth weight. Babies who are born prematurely can have a risk of brain injury, and problems with their eyesight and hearing. It’s been suggested that up to 18 out of every 100 premature births could be linked to severe gum infection (periodontal disease) which gives even more importance to good dental hygiene during pregnancy.
Caring For Your Teeth While Pregnant
Some of the common causes of dental health problems during pregnancy include:
- Gingival issues
Pregnancy hormones can put some women at risk of gum problems including:
- gingivitis (infection of the gums) – this is likely to occur during the second trimester. Symptoms include swelling of the gums and bleeding, mostly during brushing and when flossing between teeth
- periodontal disease – infection of the structures supporting the tooth (gums, periodontal ligaments, and bone). It’s caused by untreated gingivitis, which can lead to tooth loss
- pregnancy epulis, or pyogenic granuloma – a red, round growth that appears on the gums, which can bleed easily.
You should consult with your dentist if you experience gingival issues during pregnancy. While gingival issues can resolve after birth, this isn’t always the case and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Morning sickness is a common side effect of pregnancy. Unfortunately, repeated vomiting can decay or damage your enamel. To reduce the risk, try to rinse your mouth with plain water, and then with a mouthwash containing fluoride, and avoid brushing your teeth until at least an hour later.
- Cravings for sugary foods
While cravings are to be expected, excessive consumption of sugary foods and candy can lead to cavities and tooth decay. If you indulge, try to opt for a low sugar alternative to common sugary snacks. As with vomiting, follow up any sugary snack cravings by rinsing your mouth with a mouthwash containing fluoride.
- Gagging while brushing teeth
For some women, brushing your teeth can lead to a gagging sensation. Some easy steps to take to avoid this include using a smaller toothbrush, brushing a little slower, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing, listen to music, or brush with water and rinse with a fluoride-containing mouthwash immediately after.
Postpartum Dental Care
Prioritizing good dental hygiene during pregnancy is obviously important--research has shown that women who have a lot of cavity-causing bacteria during pregnancy and after delivery could transmit these bacteria from their mouth to the mouth of their baby. This could lead to early childhood cavities and the need for extensive dental care at a young age.
At EJL Dental, we care for patients from 1 month to 100 years old. Over our 50+ years in business, we have treated many new and expecting mothers. On this occasion of Mother’s Day, we congratulate and celebrate all the mothers, mother figures, and soon-to-be moms while throwing a little bit of education out there for expecting mothers to guide their journey. Have questions? Give us a call or schedule an appointment to speak with one of our highly qualified dentists. Happy Mother’s Day!