Dental Health and Pregnancy
As an expectant mother, you have a lot to think about, but it is important that you don’t neglect your oral health. Hormonal changes can affect your dental health, and if neglected or untreated, these conditions can pose a health risk to you and your baby. By understanding how pregnancy can affect your oral health, you can take the steps you need to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.
Common Dental Health Problems in Pregnancy
There are three major problems that can involve dental health during pregnancy:
- Gum disease. Pregnancy-related hormonal changes can result in gingivitis, which is a disease of the gum tissue that results in inflammation. If this is left untreated, gum disease may result in low birth weight or preterm births.
- Loose teeth. Increased estrogen and progesterone levels may affect the bones and ligaments of the teeth, and this can result in the loosening of the teeth during pregnancy. This can occur even without gum disease.
- Tooth decay. An increased acidity within the mouth during pregnancy may increase your risk of tooth decay. Additionally, vomiting throughout pregnancy can make the problem worse by exposing more gastric acid to the teeth.
Caring for Your Teeth during Pregnancy
After you learn that you are pregnant, you should visit Dr. Matthews regularly in order to maintain optimal dental health. Be sure to tell Dr. Matthews about your pregnancy, as certain dental treatments should be avoided during the first trimester and during the last few weeks of your pregnancy. This is important because these are critical times in the growth of your baby, and some procedures may influence that development. For example, dental x-rays and exposure to unnecessary radiation should be avoided in order to protect your unborn child.
Other precautions should also be taken throughout your pregnancy in order to maintain your oral health and the health of your baby:
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. Your new baby’s teeth will develop around three months into your pregnancy, so it is important to eat foods that are good for the developing bones, gums, and teeth of your baby. This may include dairy products.
- Avoid sweet snacks. While sugary cravings might be common during pregnancy, you should be mindful that frequent snacking can result in tooth decay.
- Choose a bland-tasting toothpaste if you are suffering from morning sickness, and use a mouth wash or a rinse of water if you deal with frequent bouts of vomiting.