Most expecting moms are experts on what they can do to preserve their baby’s health and safety during pregnancy, but there is one area that is many times overlooked and that is the area of oral health. The body goes through all sorts of changes during pregnancy, and many expecting moms adjust their dietary and lifestyle habits accordingly. But these changes also signal that dental care and oral hygiene routines might also need some adjustment. Here are some changes that might affect your oral health and some tips about oral care during pregnancy:
Need For Vitamins
Pregnant moms do need to take prenatal vitamins. Usually your obstetrician prescribes these. While it is true that you may experience accelerated bone loss if your calcium intake is inadequate, your body isn’t going to suck all the calcium out of your teeth to keep your baby healthy. This is one oral health concern that is, fortunately, just a myth.
A sudden spike in the pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone commonly results in hypersensitive gum tissue, which manifests as gingivitis– red and inflamed gums, which may bleed or feel painful to the touch. This condition is so common that it has been coined “pregnancy gingivitis,” and many moms– roughly 40%– experience a mild form of it during their first or second trimester. If left to its own devices, this seemingly harmless illness can quickly develop into full-blown gum disease, so it’s vital that expecting mothers keep their teeth plaque-free.
Lumps in Your Gums
Typical gum disease isn’t the only possible oral side effect of pregnancy– due to increased hormone levels, pregnant women are significantly more likely to develop the other less-than-pleasant side of pregnancy gingivitis: tumors. Severely inflamed gums sometimes develop large, painful (but noncancerous) lumps that may make it difficult to eat or talk. These pregnancy tumors usually occur, if at all, during the second trimester. It is estimated that only 10% of women develop oral pregnancy tumors.
Preventative Oral Care
To prevent these illnesses, it’s important to make oral health a priority. Brush your teeth thoroughly with fluoridated toothpaste at least twice every day, floss at least once per day, and rinse with fluoridated mouthwashes. If you struggle with morning sickness, make sure to brush your teeth shortly after vomiting– this will help protect your teeth from being broken down by regurgitated stomach acid. In addition, if you are prone to cavities or gingivitis, it may be a good idea to go to the dentist for cleanings more than the standard once per year. Depending on the type of dental coverage you have, your insurance may cover you for a free cleaning or two during pregnancy. Take advantage of it!
Regardless of whether or not your dental plan covers extra cleanings, it’s important to have a dental checkup as early in your first trimester as you can. Your dentist will search for possible problems and assist you in developing a personalized oral healthcare plan for the rest of your pregnancy. The best medicine, after all, is prevention.
Avoid Unnecessary Procedures
Most nonessential dental procedures (such as those done for cosmetic reasons) should be postponed until after the baby is born. But if you absolutely must keep your appointment, most routine or non-emergency procedures can be performed safely during pregnancy– with the safest time being during months four to six. If you are suffering from an oral health problem which causes severe discomfort, it can and should be treated regardless of what trimester you are in. Make sure to talk to your obstetrician regarding any dental condition that will be treated using prescription drugs or general anesthesia, as these can sometimes cause complications in pregnant women. Fortunately, local anesthesia is usually safe for pregnant women. Just make sure your dentist knows you are pregnant, regardless of the procedure being performed! And contact your obstetrician before starting any type of dental procedure. This will make sure you and your baby are kept safe and healthy.
Talk With Your Doctor Before any Procedure
Procedures such as dental X-rays emit extremely low levels of radiation and are generally considered safe during pregnancy but do not do these unless absolutely unavoidable! In the case that you must have an x-ray, the staff at your dental office will cover you with a protective lead apron to minimize the amount of radiation you and your growing baby will be exposed to. Again, check with your doctor before any type of procedure.
If you have any questions, please contact our team of professionals at Cosmetic Dentist in Boca Raton at (561) 232-2070. Our friendly staff at Cosmetic Dentist in Boca Raton will be happy to answer any of your questions! Congratulations on your coming little one!