If it seems like no part of your body remains unaffected by pregnancy, you’re right. From the earliest days of conception, your body’s hormones undergo significant changes. You’re probably familiar with several of these changes already, such as a heightened sense of smell, nausea, and fatigue. What many women don’t realize is that pregnancy hormones affect their oral health as well. The most significant change to oral health for pregnant women is the condition of their gums.
Pregnancy and the Increased Risk of Gum Disease
According to the American Dental Association, approximately half of all pregnant women develop gingivitis before they give birth. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease most common between the second and eighth months of pregnancy. It normally goes away after delivery, but not always. Some women who develop gingivitis during pregnancy go on to develop more advanced gum disease. This can happen when they don’t make a special effort to brush and floss their teeth twice a day and continue receiving regular professional check-ups.
The production of estrogen and progesterone, two essential hormones in the female body, significantly increases during pregnancy. This causes more blood flow to the gums, which in turn causes greater sensitivity and an overreaction to bacteria and plaque already present in the mouth. The higher than usual amount of estrogen and progesterone cause inflammation, bleeding, and tenderness of the gums. Eventually, this can lead to the loss of bone and teeth. It’s no reason to become alarmed, but we encourage you to pay close attention to your oral health during pregnancy and to report any concerns as soon as possible.
How Morning Sickness Can Affect the Health of Your Teeth
Nausea and vomiting are a fact of life for many pregnant women and either symptom can strike you at any time of day. The stomach acid present in vomit can damage your teeth, particularly if you’re unfortunate enough to struggle with persistent vomiting during pregnancy. You can help to prevent acid erosion of your teeth by rinsing your mouth out with water, a diluted mouthwash, or a mixture of one teaspoon of baking soda and one cup of water. For the most effective results, swish and spit first and then brush your teeth approximately half an hour later.
What to Do When Brushing Your Teeth Makes Your Gag
It may feel disheartening to read that pregnancy can increase oral health issues when the very thought of brushing your teeth makes you feel nauseated. You will need to try different approaches to see what works best for you. Perhaps using a different flavor of toothpaste will decrease gagging sensations. You could also try brushing at times of day when you tend to feel less nauseated or using a toothbrush with a smaller sized head. Stay persistent until you find something that works for you to decrease the likelihood of developing gum disease or tooth decay during your pregnancy.
The Importance of a Healthy Diet
You already know that a healthy diet that includes ample amounts of fruits, vegetables, and protein and few sweets is essential for the proper development of your growing baby. However, it’s just as important for your own oral health. Although it can be challenging to resist sweets when your body is sending you strange food cravings, do your best not to give in to them. If you find that you must have something sweet, try to brush your teeth as soon as possible afterwards to prevent the sugar from turning into bacteria in your mouth.
Dental Check-Ups and Treatment Are Safe During Pregnancy
If you normally visit the dentist every six months, you would be due for at least one check-up before you give birth. It’s important to keep this appointment so your teeth and gums can remain as healthy as possible for the duration of your pregnancy. The American Dental Association also states that pregnant women don’t need to delay necessary dental procedures such as crowns and fillings because these restorations can help to prevent gum disease and infections that can cause additional problems later. However, it’s probably best to wait to schedule any cosmetic procedures until after you have the baby.
Request Your Free Consultation Today
Dr. Marina Funtik of Oasis Prosthodontics is happy to provide guidance and treatment to maximize your oral health during pregnancy. You may complete a contact form or call her office at 719-574-2417 to request an appointment. Our entire staff looks forward to meeting you and providing you with exceptional care during your pregnancy and beyond.