After you become pregnant, your hormones, especially progesterone, start to increase and change. Hormones do not affect just the growth of your little one; they also change the very chemistry of your body. That is why, when you are pregnant, it is more important than ever to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
If you and your partner are thinking about getting pregnant, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist will not only clean your teeth but will also check the health of your gums. If the dentist notices any potential issues, you can address them together before pregnancy.
Dental Health During Pregnancy
While you might not notice a difference in your dental health during the first trimester, do not slack off on your daily flossing, brushing and rinsing. Gums often become swollen, which can lead to other issues, particularly gingivitis and periodontal (gum) disease in any trimester of pregnancy. An increase in hormones during pregnancy often also leads to dry mouth, especially at night.
Additionally, in about 10 percent of all pregnancies, women will experience pregnancy granulomas, or gum tissue growths, which are purplish in color. Hormones also relax ligaments in your body, including those in your mouth, reports the American Family Physician, so be sure to keep an eye out for any loose teeth. While there are steps that can be taken to address these symptoms at home, the Mayo Clinic advises that women be sure to talk to their dentist about how they can best keep their teeth and gums healthy.
Here are additional tips to keep in mind throughout your pregnancy:
- If you experience morning sickness, rinse your mouth as soon as possible. Also, if your toothpaste is causing you to feel nauseous, switch toothpaste brands or change to a mild flavor.
- Be sure to brush your front teeth and your back teeth very well during pregnancy. Make it a point to brush the gumline to prevent pregnancy gingivitis from occuring and also the teeth and biting surfaces to prevent dental caries (decay).
- If you have a midnight snack, brush your teeth again to reduce the chance of cavities.
- In addition to flossing and brushing, be sure to rinse with a fluoride mouthwash.
All of this is crucial not only for you but for your new baby as well. Poor dental health has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight in babies.
Visit Your Dentist While Pregnant
Professional cleanings are essential during pregnancy to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Schedule an appointment during your second trimester, and be sure to tell your dentist that you are pregnant and to disclose any medications or prenatal vitamins that you are taking.
Depending on the state of your dental health, your dentist may instruct you to come back for another cleaning while you are pregnant; this is completely normal. It is better to get another cleaning than to risk bacterial infection or increased risk of gingivitis and gum disease.
Dental Health after the Baby Arrives
Although you are no longer eating for two after your little bundle of joy has arrived, keep up with biannual appointments, and check in with your dentist regularly to maintain optimal oral health.