Congratulations! You’re pregnant. Here is what you can expect from your oral health when you are expecting.
When a woman becomes pregnant, she knows how important it is to take care of her health for the health of her unborn baby. If you’ve recently gotten the news of pregnancy, eating well, exercising and getting rest are just some of the things that being pregnant demands, and probably the last thing that’s on your mind is your mouth! But new clinical recommendations from the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) and the American Dental Association (ADA) urge pregnant women not to skip that dental cleaning.
Research has indicated that women with periodontal disease may be at risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such giving birth to a pre-term or low-birth weight baby. If you notice bleeding and swelling in the gum tissue, it shouldn’t be ignored – especially when pregnant. Although many women make it nine months with no dental discomfort, pregnancy can make some conditions worse – or create new ones. Regular checkups and good dental health habits can help keep you and your baby healthy. Here are three ways pregnancy affects dental health.
Your mouth can be aﬀected by the hormonal changes you will experience during pregnancy. For example, some women develop a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” an inﬂammation of the gums that can cause swelling and tenderness. Your gums also may bleed a little when you brush or ﬂoss. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious forms of gum disease. Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings to prevent this.
Increased Risk of Tooth Decay
Pregnant women may be more prone to cavities for a number of reasons. If you’re eating more carbohydrates than usual, this can cause decay. Morning sickness can increase the amount of acid your mouth is exposed to, which can eat away at the outer covering of your tooth (enamel).
Brushing twice a day and ﬂossing once can also fall by the wayside during pregnancy for many reasons, including morning sickness, a more sensitive gag reﬂex, tender gums and exhaustion. It’s especially important to keep up your routine, as poor habits during pregnancy have been associated with premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
In some women, overgrowths of tissue called “pregnancy tumors” appear on the gums, most often during the second trimester. It is not cancer but rather just swelling that happens most often between teeth. They may be related to excess plaque. They bleed easily and have a red, raw-looking raspberry-like appearance. They usually disappear after your baby is born, but if you are concerned, talk to your dentist about removing them.
Is dental treatment safe during pregnancy?
Although some procedures are not recommended, simple ﬁllings and periodontal maintenance can absolutely be performed with no harm to an unborn child. Other procedures may also be safe in certain trimesters. New studies show that local anesthetic and dental x-rays are also safe for pregnant women as long as proper precautions are taken. Just ask your Dental Professional what is ok.