Often times, women of childbearing age as well as pregnant women are unaware of how pregnancy affects not only oral health, but the child’s oral health after they are born. In fact, children whose mothers have untreated tooth decay (cavities) are three times more likely to suffer from painful tooth decay. Those same children that have cavities are also three times as likely to miss days of school because of their painful cavities. Furthermore, there’s one major fact that helps to illustrate why oral health is so important, especially when pregnant: periodontitis (gum disease) has been associated with poor birthing outcomes such as “preterm birth and low birth weight.” Nevertheless, any dental health issues that are related to pregnancy may easily be prevented with adequate and proper oral health care.
Common Dental Health Conditions
Due to the fluctuations in hormones and blood flow (among other factors), specific oral health conditions are more common among women during their pregnancy, including the following (but not limited to):
1. Gingivitis (Early gum disease): Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease, which causes gum recession, bone loss, tooth loss, pain and, bleeding. The increase in blood flow to the gums (usually due to hormone changes) and the increased pregnancy inflammatory response causes bleeding, inflammation of the gums and pain.
2. Tooth decay: This is due to possible cravings coupled with less attention to oral health and the increased acidity of the mouth. Tooth decay is extremely common, and it causes pain and in worst-case scenarios, it may lead to tooth loss.
3. Enamel erosion: “Morning sickness” (increased nausea and vomiting when pregnant), as well as any increase in acid reflux, causes enamel erosion. Enamel erosion contributes to increased tooth sensitivity due to the decrease in tooth enamel that helps to protect the tooth’s nerve.
4. Loose teeth: Changes to the bone density and ligaments may cause teeth to feel loose, but this is often not a cause for concern.
In order to prevent dental complications and conditions while pregnant, there are steps that an expecting mother can take. Try some of the following tips to ensure your dental health:
A. Tell your dentist if you are pregnant- When your dentist knows that you are pregnant, they will make sure to be more diligent in their examination of your mouth, knowing your increased susceptibility to dental symptoms.
B. Stay diligent about your daily dental hygiene- Don’t forgo or forget to brush your teeth two times daily and floss at least once daily! It’s easy to forget with a lot of other things going on, so sometimes it may even help to leave a reminder note for yourself in the bathroom.
C. Don’t skip visits to the dentist– Dental checkups are extra important during pregnancy! Not just for a professional cleaning and examination, but so that your dentist can treat anything that may be developing before it gets worse and/or more painful and costly to treat.
D. Try modifying your dental hygiene routine if it causes nausea- Some women find that the toothbrush simply being in their mouth is cause for vomiting. In cases like that, some pregnant women benefit from modifying their routine by brushing a little bit, then taking a break and going back to it. Sometimes breathing exercises can help relieve toothbrushing-related nausea as well.
E. Pay close attention to any changes in your dental health- In order to pre-empt any dental damage, it’s best to keep a close eye on any dental changes, pain, inflammation and/or bleeding in the mouth while pregnant.
Advanced DDS is a full-service dental practice in Garden City, NY where our team of dental experts provide exceptional and thorough dental care. Schedule your dental consultation at 516-825-1100.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists