Congratulations, you’re expecting! We do not doubt that there are many more things at the forefront of your mind than your teeth right now. There are breathing techniques to learn and birthing plans to make and baby showers to attend. Where, in all of the excitement of expecting, can you be expected to even notice what’s going on in your mouth? We’re with you, Mama. And we also encourage you to remember that your oral health is directly related to not only the appearance of your smile but to your risk factors for pre-term delivery and low birth weight.
Pregnancy Affects your Dental Health
Many women are under the impression that pregnancy and dental care don’t mix. This is only true to a certain extent. As much as possible, dentists try to avoid performing dental work on pregnant women. However, that does not mean you should skip routine dental exams and cleanings that fall within the nine months of gestation. In fact, we encourage women who are trying to conceive to stay up-to-date with their dental checkups so we can have an excellent handle on gum health before pregnancy.
Hormones may surge more during pregnancy than at any other time in a woman’s life. These surges are intentional; designed by Mother Nature to support the birthing process. Because hormones increase to allow muscle and tissue expansion during birth, there are bound to be additional effects. Gum weakness is one of them.
Women who are pregnant may notice that their gums bleed when they brush and floss. They may see puffiness or redness in the gum tissue around their teeth. This is likely related to the increase in hormones that soften tissues before birth. What we want to do is observe the gums to make sure these symptoms are not related to gingivitis or gum disease. Because the gums naturally weaken during pregnancy, there is a higher chance for bacteria to sit in the crease just beneath the gums. If bacterial accumulate here, inflammation and infection may follow. We want to prevent this.
Caring for Teeth and Gums During Pregnancy
- The first few months of pregnancy are the most delicate. After four to six months, it is beneficial to contact your dentist for a routine exam – without x-rays.
- Make sure that brushing happens every morning and every night. Floss before going to sleep at night, taking care to slide the floss under the gums around each tooth. This is not uncomfortable when done slowly. A flossing stick can be used to reach back teeth easily.
- Choose crunchy fruits and vegetables for snacks. These will scrub enamel to inhibit plaque accumulation around the gum line naturally.
- Reduce the effects of sugar residue and acids, especially if you have morning sickness, by sipping water frequently and swishing water over teeth.