Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing at least once a day and regular dental checkups are standard practice for good oral hygiene. However, pregnancy and oral health routines may need some adjustment due to changes in hormone levels increasing the risk of oral health issues. Poor habits during pregnancy have been associated with premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
Good nutrition is an important aspect of pregnancy and oral health concerns. It impacts the future oral health of your child, because a baby’s teeth begin to develop between 3 to 6 months’ gestation. Your diet should have adequate amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A, C and D. If you are not consuming the proper nutrients, it could affect the development of your child’s teeth.
Certain medications, such as tetracycline, should not be taken by the mother while she is pregnant, as these can cause discoloration to the developing teeth of the fetus.
Cavities – Increased acidity in the oral cavity, cravings for sugary foods and morning sickness can play a huge part in creating cavities. The stomach acids in vomit can eat away at your teeth. After experiencing morning sickness, it is best to swish and spit with water, a diluted mouth rinse or a mixture of 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with one cup of water. This should neutralize the acid in your mouth, but it is important to wait 30 minutes after swishing before brushing your teeth.
Pregnancy Oral Tumors – These tumors most commonly develop in the second and third trimesters. They grow rapidly but will typically recede after delivery. They are caused by an increase in progesterone in combination with local irritants and bacteria. They are usually managed by observation unless they bleed, interfere with chewing or do not resolve after delivery. If they are surgically removed during pregnancy, they will more than likely recur.
Loose Teeth – The hormones estrogen and progesterone can cause the ligaments and bones that keep your teeth in place to relax and soften. This can happen even if you do not have gum disease. This problem should go away after pregnancy, but if you feel it is persisting following the birth of your child, you should consult your dentist.
Pregnancy Gingivitis – This condition is usually experienced by women between the second and eighth months of pregnancy. Increased hormones make your gums more sensitive to plaque and can cause gums to swell, turn red, feel tender and sore and cause bleeding. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily can help keep this condition in check. Your dentist may recommend additional cleanings during the second and third trimester to help control pregnancy gingivitis.
Periodontitis – If gingivitis goes untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, an inflammatory response in which a film of bacteria, known as plaque, adheres to the teeth and releases bacterial toxins that create pockets of destructive infection in the gums and bones. The teeth may loosen, bone may be lost, and a bacteremia or infection in the blood may result. Periodontitis has been linked to low birth weight and/or preterm labor.
Recommendations for Pregnancy and Oral Health
Routine oral health maintenance is more important than ever during pregnancy. Limiting sugary foods and drinks, brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing at least once daily, rinsing your mouth out after experiencing morning sickness and visiting the dentist twice a year will help you keep that beautiful smile!
If you are having a problem with your oral health and are pregnant, the best time to have a dental procedure like getting a filling or needing a crown is in the second trimester, after the baby has completed forming all of its organs. Screening x-rays should be avoided until after the birth of the baby. Diagnostic x-rays in the first trimester should also be avoided if it can be postponed until the second trimester. If not possible due to an acute problem, and the benefits outweigh the risks, with proper protection, the x-rays can be done.
If you have questions or concerns about your pregnancy and oral health, Good Samaritan Dental Implant Institute would be happy to see you for a consultation.