If you’re expecting a baby, you’ve probably read a lot about how your body will change during your pregnancy. But did you know your oral health can also be impacted?
Hormones in the body surge during pregnancy which changes the way your gum tissue reacts to plaque. Most of the changes that take place are temporary and will go away after baby comes. Even so, you should be aware of potential changes so you’ll know what to expect.
How Will My Gums React?
About half of pregnant women will develop “pregnancy gingivitis.” The condition results in red, swollen, tender gums that bleed, especially during brushing and flossing. If you already have gingivitis — an inflammation of the gum tissue caused by the presence of plaque — the condition will probably get worse during your pregnancy. Pregnancy gingivitis usually goes away after your baby is born. If the condition doesn’t improve, contact us for an appointment.
Can I Prevent These Problems?
It’s vitally important to keep your teeth clean during pregnancy. Pay special attention to the gumline to remove food particles and bacteria that cause plaque. Brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day and after each meal. Be sure to floss every day, too. You may also need to have more frequent cleanings at our office to control plaque and pregnancy gingivitis.
For some women, morning sickness interferes with their ability to brush and floss. If you simply can’t brush, rinse your mouth with water or with an antiplaque mouthwash. Be sure to eat properly, too. Vitamins C and B12 will help keep your mouth healthy and strong.
Can Gingivitis Affect My Baby’s Health?
Pregnancy-related gingivitis won’t hurt your baby. However, research suggests periodontal disease can result in premature labor. That means if you have gum disease before you become pregnant, you are at greater risk for having a preterm and/or low-weight baby. Researchers think excessive bacteria in the gums can enter the bloodstream and reach the uterus. The bacteria trigger your body to produce prostaglandins, the chemicals which are doctors believe cause premature labor.
Should I See My Dentist?
Schedule a checkup and cleaning during your first trimester. We’ll assess your oral health and recommend a course of action for the remainder of your pregnancy. We may recommend a visit during the second trimester for a cleaning and to monitor changes. X-rays typically won’t be taken during pregnancy unless a dental emergency occurs.
Is Dental Work Safe During Pregnancy?
While most non-emergency procedures are safe throughout pregnancy, the best time for restorative treatments (like fillings) is between the fourth through sixth month. However, if you have a dental emergency, we can treat you at any point in your pregnancy. If anesthesia is required or medication is prescribed, we’ll consult your obstetrician first to keep you and baby as safe as possible.