Maintaining a good dental hygiene routine is essential for your overall health. However, it is particularly vital during pregnancy and should be an integral part of your prenatal care program. Pregnancy increases the risk of some dental health problems, which may contribute to complications and, in some cases, even lead to premature birth weight.
In addition to brushing with fluoride twice a day and flossing daily, we recommend that you attend your dental checkups as you would otherwise and advise your dentist to receive all the care and information you may need.
Can my oral health impact my baby’s overall health?
Your health is linked to your unborn baby’s health. Bacteria in your mouth can potentially enter your bloodstream through your gums and trigger prostaglandins production in your uterus. Some studies suggest that these chemicals could contribute to premature labour. After your baby is born, you should also be wary of bacterial transmission. Baby caries is primarily caused by bacteria, which can be passed from you to your child, for example, if you put their pacifier or spoon in your mouth.
Why are expecting mothers prone to declining tooth & gum health?
The most obvious contributing factor is exhaustion. If you’re finding that you’re falling asleep before you had a chance to brush your teeth before bedtime, bacteria and plaque build-up, which over time can lead to tooth decay.
Keep in mind that the food you eat can affect your oral health. During your first trimester, you’ll likely experience morning sickness, which will expose your enamel to stomach acid, thereby increasing the risk for cavities and tooth erosion. You might also find yourself snacking throughout the day, which means that your teeth will be in contact with more acid from the food you’re craving or able to stomach.
If you’re taking prenatal vitamins, you may wish to opt for capsules rather than sugar-filled gummies, especially if you’re taking them at bedtime.
Hormonal changes – namely, high levels of progesterone and estrogen can loosen bone and tissue around your teeth.
Lastly, studies have shown that hormonal changes may also heighten the risk of gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease and bone loss. It is estimated that approximately 65% of women will develop gingivitis during pregnancy. It is common for expecting mothers to have particularly tender gums, which can deter some from brushing and flossing as they would otherwise.
What signs should I look out for during pregnancy?
While this may not be a definite sign that you suffer from gingivitis, you should pay attention to redness and swelling and bleeding even if you brush your teeth gently. Inspect your mouth for loose teeth, mouth sores and lumps, which may be non-cancerous tumours. Bad breath is a common sign of tooth decay. If you experience any pain or toothache, you should contact your dentist right away to rule out any signs of infection, which may affect your unborn baby’s health.
Your healthcare provider probably warned you about the risks associated with radiation exposure during your pregnancy. X-rays are nonetheless an essential part of dental care, and it may become necessary to resort to this medical test to inquire about and resolve any dental concerns. However, rest assured that dental x-rays are considered safe during pregnancy. They use minimal amounts of radiation, and you will be provided with appropriate protective aprons during the procedures. We strongly urge you to let your dental health provider know that you are pregnant so that they can ensure that all necessary precautions are taken.
If you have any questions about pregnancy gingivitis, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.