How does pregnancy affect my oral health?
It is a myth that calcium is lost from the mother’s teeth during
pregnancy. The calcium your baby needs is provided by your diet, not by your
teeth. If dietary calcium is inadequate, however, your body will access this
mineral from stores in your bones. An adequate intake of dairy products, green
leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, mustard greens) or the supplements your
obstetrician may recommend will help ensure that you get all the calcium you
need during your pregnancy.
You may experience some changes in your oral health during
pregnancy. The primary changes are due to a surge in hormones – particularly an
increase in estrogen and progesterone –- that can cause your gum tissues to
exaggerate a normal reaction to plaque. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of
bacteria that covers your teeth. If plaque isn’t removed daily, it can
eventually harden into tartar and may increase your risk of gingivitis, a
condition with symptoms of red, swollen and tender gums that are more likely to
bleed. So-called "pregnancy gingivitis" affects most pregnant women
to some degree, and it generally begins to surface as early as the second
month. If you already have gingivitis, the condition is likely to worsen during
pregnancy. If untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a more serious
form of gum disease.
Pregnant women are also at risk for developing pregnancy tumors,
inflammatory, non-cancerous growths that develop when swollen gums become
irritated. Normally, the tumors are left alone and will usually shrink on their
own after the baby’s birth. But if a tumor is uncomfortable and interferes with
chewing, brushing or other oral hygiene procedures, the dentist may decide to
How can I prevent these problems?
You can prevent
gingivitis by keeping your teeth clean, especially near the gumline. You should
brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and after each meal when
possible. You should also floss thoroughly each day. If brushing exacerbates
morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water or with antiplaque and fluoride
mouthwashes. More frequent cleanings from the dentist will reduce gum
irritation, help control plaque, prevent gingivitis and decrease the likelihood
of pregnancy tumors. Be sure to check your dental benefits, as some Delta
Dental benefit plans cover an extra cleaning for pregnant women.
How does my oral health affect my baby’s
New research suggests a possible link between gum disease and
pre-term, low-birthweight babies. Studies
have shown that a pregnant woman with periodontal disease is 7.5 times more at
risk for delivering a preterm low-birth-weight baby. Excessive
bacteria can enter the bloodstream through your gums. If this happens, the
bacteria can travel to the uterus, triggering the production of chemicals
called prostaglandins, which are suspected to induce premature labor. Though
findings are inconclusive and further research is needed, we do know preventive
dental care during pregnancy improves oral health and overall health and is
safe for both mother and child. It is
estimated that between 60 and 70 percent of all pregnant women have some form
of gingivitis or periodontal disease (mild to severe gum disease.) It is
imperative for pregnant moms to keep on top of their oral hygiene and overall
oral health throughout their pregnancy to reduce the chances of gingivitis and
severe periodontal disease from developing. This is of particular importance
for those women who have a family history of periodontal disease, as studies
have shown that this can run in families.
Are there any dental procedures I should avoid?
Elective procedures that
can be postponed should be delayed until after the baby's birth. But
non-emergency procedures generally can be performed throughout pregnancy, with
the best time for any dental treatment being the fourth through six months.
Women with dental emergencies that create severe pain can be treated during any
trimester, but your obstetrician should be consulted during emergencies that
require anesthesia or prescribed medications. The American Dental
Association recommends avoiding routine or elective x-rays during pregnancy.
When should I see my dentist?
If you're planning to
become pregnant or suspect you're pregnant, you should see a dentist right
away. Otherwise, you should schedule a checkup in your first trimester to
determine whether you need a cleaning. Your dentist will assess your oral
condition and map out a dental plan for the rest of your pregnancy. A visit to
the dentist also is recommended in the second trimester for a cleaning, to
monitor changes and to gauge the effectiveness of your oral hygiene. Depending
on the patient, another appointment may be scheduled early in the third
trimester, but these appointments should be kept as brief as possible.
If you notice any
changes in your mouth during pregnancy, see your dentist. Dental experts say it
is important not to overlook oral health care during pregnancy. Your oral
health is an important part of your overall health, and good dental hygiene
habits not only help prevent oral problems during pregnancy, they may also
positively affect the health of your unborn child.
Sources: http://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/pregnancy2.htmlHow does pregnancy affect my oral health? Academy of General Dentistry