Oral Health During Pregnancy
When you become pregnant, your body goes through several changes. A lot of women don’t realize that these changes can affect their oral health, and even the health of their baby. For example, gingivitis or infected gums can increase the risk of premature birth and has been linked to babies being born with low birth weight.
Some women fear that local anaesthetics and dental x-rays may harm their babies, but they are perfectly safe. Allowing your dental health to suffer during pregnancy will have far more negative effects for you and your baby.
Let’s examine at the reasons why you shouldn’t miss a dental check-up during pregnancy and should even consider going for more frequent ones.
Why is Oral Health Affected by Pregnancy?
Hormonal changes, increased blood flow throughout the body, and increases in the acidity of your mouth occur during pregnancy. While this is perfectly natural, it all adds up to a greater chance of developing oral health issues. These include:
Gingivitis: You might think that your gums are just a bit inflamed and you may notice that they tend to bleed after brushing your teeth. However, gingivitis is an infection that could harm your baby. High levels of the hormone progesterone contribute to your susceptibility to gingivitis.
Periodontitis: This is a very serious gum disease that can make your teeth become loose. However, if you go for regular check-ups, your dentist can spot signs of trouble early on and treat the problem.
Pregnancy Tumours: If you notice lumps on your gums, they may be pregnancy tumours. They are not cancer and often go away once you’ve had your baby. However, if they don’t, your dentist can remove them. To reduce your chances of getting them, have your teeth professionally cleaned.
Tooth Decay: Because of the elevated acidity of your mouth, you will be more prone to tooth decay when pregnant. Morning sickness also adds to the acidity problem.
Your Oral Healthcare Plan for Pregnancy
It’s a good idea to see a dentist before pregnancy. Tell him or her about your plans. If you’re in early pregnancy already, the same applies. Your dentist will be able to assess your oral health risks and recommend treatments or advise you as to when you should come for another check-up.
Maintain your regular oral healthcare routine if at all possible. Here are a few extra tips:
- If you find that tooth brushing makes you feel sick, at least rinse out your mouth with water or mouthwash.
- If you throw up because of morning sickness, rinse your mouth to clear the acidity.
- Remember that a balanced diet will not only improve your oral health but help your baby to develop strong teeth.
- Try to cut down on sweet treats that can aggravate your susceptibility to tooth decay and gum disease.
Your dentist forms part of your healthcare team at all times, but your dental appointments are even more important during pregnancy. Take good care of your oral health to limit pregnancy-related dental problems.