Pregnancy is an exciting and busy time in a woman’s life — but in the hustle and bustle of attending baby showers and putting together cribs and car seats, dental care should not be overlooked. Maintaining oral health during pregnancy is tremendously important, both to mother and baby.
How Pregnancy Affects the Mouth
Many expecting mothers experience “pregnancy gingivitis,” (a.k.a., gum disease). Hormonal fluctuations caused by pregnancy can affect the way the gums react to dental plaque, and make them more likely to become inflamed, irritated or sore. It’s common for the gums to bleed when brushing or flossing. Diligent brushing and flossing as well as more frequent dental cleanings can prevent gingivitis from progressing.
Pregnant women are also more likely to develop cavities. Episodes of morning sickness can increase the amount of acid in the mouth, and too much acid can erode tooth enamel, leading to decay. Rinsing the mouth with water after vomiting can neutralize some of the acid.
Some pregnant women brush less frequently because of a sensitive gag reflex, tender gums or exhaustion. However, according to the American Dental Association, poor hygiene habits during pregnancy have been linked to premature delivery, preeclampsia and other complications. Therefore, maintaining a normal brushing and flossing routine is crucial.
General Recommendations for Dental Care During Pregnancy
If you are expecting, you should consult with your primary care physician and dentist about your individual needs. In general, Dr. Keefe suggests the following:
- Keep your dental check-ups scheduled as normal.
- Let your dentist know ahead of time that you are pregnant and indicate how far along you are.
- Indicate to your dentist if you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications.
- Try to schedule necessary dental work (i.e., fillings) during your second trimester; you might feel under the weather during your first trimester and it may be challenging to lie on your back for extended periods of time during your third trimester.
- Postpone unnecessary dental work (i.e., elective or cosmetic dentistry) until after you give birth.
Book an Appointment with Dr. Keefe
If you are due for a dental check-up and cleaning, or you have a question about dental care during pregnancy, Dr. Keefe is here to help. Please call or email 5 Mile Smiles today.