How Pregnancy Affects Dental Health
Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life that brings many changes along with it. While symptoms such as morning sickness and swollen feet are more widely publicized, pregnancy can also affect dental health in different ways. If you think or know you are expecting, it’s best to tell your dentist as soon as possible so that together, you can plan your care accordingly.
Pregnancy causes a surge in hormones, which can allow plaque to build up faster than usual and increase a woman’s chances of developing gum disease. Another issue many pregnant women experience is gum tenderness or sensitivity, or gums that bleed easily. This is also referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis.” Pregnant women are at a higher risk for dental problems and in some cases, issues with teeth or gums can cause babies to be born preterm. It’s important to treat problems appropriately to avoid the risk of affecting the baby’s health.
Professional Dental Care
If you need dental work while pregnant, the ideal time to have it is during the second trimester. Your baby is developing rapidly during the first trimester, and it’s best to postpone dental treatments until after, if possible. However, don’t delay in seeking emergency care if you have a true dental emergency.
It’s absolutely safe to continue your standard cleaning appointments with your dentist. While optional dental work should typically be postponed until after pregnancy, ask your dentist if you have questions.
At-Home Dental Care
If you’re experiencing morning sickness, try to swish afterward with water and a teaspoon of baking soda. This will help counteract the acid exposure on your teeth. Avoid brushing right after vomiting so as not to destroy your teeth enamel – try to wait about an hour before you brush.
Continue to follow your at-home dental care plan, which should include brushing gently twice a day and flossing once a day. If you don’t use a mouthwash already, you may want to consider adding one to your routine.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Your baby’s teeth begin to develop around the end of the first trimester, and your diet plays a big role in your baby’s health. Evaluate what you eat, and try to especially limit or avoid sugary foods. Sugar is the main cause of dental decay and gum disease. Good sources of nutrition to consider include: fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy protein choices. Talk to your doctor about taking a prenatal vitamin, and remember to drink lots of water.
With a little bit of planning, you can help ensure your teeth are the least of your concerns during your pregnancy. As always, come see us at Chauvin Dental if you have any questions during this exciting time in your life!