When thinking about prenatal and pregnancy health, the focus often goes directly to eating the right foods and providing the fetus with the proper nutrients. Dental hygiene is also very important but does not often get the attention it deserves.
Gum Damage During Pregnancy
A woman’s body experiences drastic hormonal changes throughout the course of pregnancy. Two of the most common female hormones, progesterone and estrogen, can cause gums to soften. This makes gums more susceptible to bleeding, which can cause a variety of gum diseases, tooth and gum sensitivity, and other dental problems. During pregnancy, a woman’s blood flow can increase by up to 50 percent. This is the reason that many pregnant women are said to have a “glow” to their faces, but it also means that bleeding gums can be a more serious problem. Many pregnant women suffer from pregnancy gingivitis which can have a long-term impact on both the mother and the baby.
Tooth Care for Mother and Fetus
Many people believe that pregnancy can damage the enamel of one’s teeth. The American Dental Association has confirmed that this is not true and that pregnant women lose calcium from their teeth during pregnancy or that they experience tooth decay at a higher rate. Professionals do still advise women who are pregnant to adhere to a healthy and balanced diet to make sure that the body gets all of the nutrients it needs. Sufficient calcium intake is also important for the developing fetus, as nutrients will help to build the baby’s teeth. A healthy diet will build stronger teeth, which begin to develop between the third and six month of pregnancy.
The Effects of “Morning Sickness”
Many women suffer from “morning sickness” during pregnancy. In fact, nausea can hit at any time of day. If you are getting sick on a regular basis, it can cause problems for your dental health. Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting, as the acid from your stomach can erode teeth and may be worsened with brushing. Drink some water and brush teeth a short time later. Women can also use mouthwash after being sick to rinse teeth and reduce the damage caused by stomach acid. Carrying a portable toothbrush and toothpaste while pregnant can have another beneficial effect, as cleaning teeth can help to satisfy cravings for sugar.
Dental Work During Pregnancy
Dentists recommend that women have their teeth checked if they are planning to try to have a baby in the near future. This way, any necessary dental work can be completed beforehand without any risk. If already pregnant, it is recommended that women wait until the second trimester to schedule a dentist appointment. Most dentists will choose to delay x-rays until after the pregnancy. If x-rays are necessary, they can take the necessary precautions to ensure safety. While some procedures may have to wait until the baby is delivered, cavities can typically be filled later in the pregnancy without any detrimental effects. Always inform your dentist if you are pregnant so they can choose the best course of care for your teeth.
While pregnancy does not actively cause tooth decay, it can cause gum damage. Further, it is crucial for expecting mothers to get enough calcium as the demands on the body are higher than normal.
Guest post contributed by Laura, on behalf of Glebe Dental Group.