When you’re pregnant, your body goes through a number of changes, and your teeth and gums are no exception. Some of the changes to your oral health during pregnancy can be alarming, but by being proactive and consulting with your dentist, you can ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy for the duration of your pregnancy.
Take Good Care of Your Gums
Research has found links between gum disease and premature birth; while it’s too early to conclude whether it’s a matter of correlation or causation, it’s still a good idea to pay special attention to your gums when you’re expecting.
Pregnancy gingivitis is a condition in which your gums swell due to hormonal changes in the body. In addition to inflammation, you may notice that your gums bleed when you brush and floss. When left untreated, gingivitis can lead to gum disease, which can have a serious impact on your overall oral health, even leading to tooth loss.
Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day and floss at least once a day to remove food particles and bacteria from between your teeth. It’s also important to schedule an appointment with your dentist if you think you have pregnancy gingivitis. More frequent dental cleanings may be needed during your pregnancy or you may need a treatment called scaling and root planing, which removes calculus from just below the gumline, where it collections and causes infection.
Look Out for Pregnancy Tumors
Pregnancy tumors sound serious, but they’re actually not—like pregnancy gingivitis, they too are a result of the hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy. These lesions often occur during the second trimester. They look like small raspberries in the gum tissue between the teeth and while they are likely to disappear by the time your baby is born, if they’re causing you discomfort, we can remove them.
Keep GI Issues in Check
If you have morning sickness or acid reflux, check in with your OB/GYN and see if there are treatment options available to safely alleviate these symptoms. Not only will they make you miserable during your pregnancy, they also erode the enamel on your teeth, setting the stage for cavities.
If you can stomach it, combine a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda and rinse with it to neutralize the acid in your mouth after you’ve been sick or had particularly bad acid reflux.
Don’t Skip Your Routine Dental Exams
Many pregnant women are under the impression that they shouldn’t go to the dentist while they’re pregnant, but this is a myth—the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Dental Association (ADA) both recommend regular dental exams and minor restorative dental work, if needed, during pregnancy to protect your oral health. According to the ACOG, the second trimester is the ideal time to have minor dental work.