Oral Care And Pregnancy
Posted July 31, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 8 min read
It's important for you to take good care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that boost the risk of developing gum diseases which, in turn, can affect the health of your developing baby also. Pregnancy increases the risk of certain dental health problems that may lead to pregnancy complications, like premature birth.
What is oral health and how does it affect pregnancy?
Oral health or dental health is the health of your mouth, teeth and gums. It’s an important part of your overall health, and if you’re pregnant, it’s an important part of your prenatal care.
Being pregnant can increase your risk for oral health problems, and these problems can affect your pregnancy.
For example, some studies show a link between gum disease and premature birth. Premature birth is birth that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies may have more health problems at birth and later in life than babies born full term, and hence oral health maintenance play an important role.
Taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums during pregnancy can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
How does pregnancy affect your oral health?
Changes in your body during pregnancy due to hormonal changes can affect your teeth and gums.
You have increased levels of certain hormones, like progesterone and estrogen, in your body during pregnancy. These can increase your risk for certain oral health problems.
Your eating habits may change. You may eat more of certain foods during pregnancy than you did before you were pregnant. The kinds of food you eat can affect your dental health.
You may brush and floss your teeth less than you did before you got pregnant. This may be because your gums are tender or you’re more tired than usual. For some women, brushing and flossing may cause nausea or vomiting.
These changes can increase your risk for certain dental problems during pregnancy, which include the following
Dental cavities also called tooth decay or caries. These are small to large, damaged areas in the surface of your teeth caused by various factors. Being pregnant makes you more likely to have cavities. You can pass the bacteria that causes cavities to your baby during pregnancy and after birth. This can cause problems for your baby’s teeth later in life after eruption of the teeth.
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious gum related problems. Pregnancy hormones can increase your risk for gingivitis. Sixty to 75 percent of pregnant women have gingivitis.
Signs and symptoms of gingivitis include the following
Redness and swelling
Tenderness in the gums
Bleeding of the gums, even when you brush your teeth gently
High levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy can temporarily loosen the tissues and bones that keep your teeth in place. This can make your teeth loose or mobile.
If gingivitis is untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease. This causes serious infection in the gums and problems with the bones that support the teeth. Your teeth may get loose, and they may have to be extracted. Periodontitis can lead to bacteremia meaning bacteria in the bloodstream. This is a serious condition that needs immediate treatment. Smoking can be an other cause of severe gum disease.
Pregnancy tumors also called
pyogenic granuloma. These tumors are not cancerous. They’re like lumps that form on the gums, usually between teeth. Pregnancy tumors look red and raw, and they bleed easily without any cause. They can be caused by having too much plaque which is a sticky film containing bacteria that forms on teeth. These tumors usually go away on their own after delivery. In rare cases, they may need to be removed by your health care provider.
If you have vomiting from morning sickness, your teeth may be exposed to too much stomach acid. This acid can harm the enamel of your teeth. Morning sickness also called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy or
NVP is nausea and vomiting that happens during pregnancy, usually in the first few months.
What are signs and symptoms of oral problems during pregnancy?
If you have any signs or symptoms of dental problems, call your dentist. Signs of a condition are things someone else can see or know about you, like you have a rash or you’re coughing. Symptoms are things you feel yourself that others can’t see, like having a sore throat or feeling dizzy.
Signs and symptoms of dental problems include the following
Loose or mobile teeth
Mouth sores or mouth ulcers
New spaces between the teeth
Receding gums meaning when your gums pull away from your teeth so, you can see roots of your teeth or pus along your gum-line where your gums meet your teeth
Gums that are red, swollen, tender or shiny, gums that bleed easily
Toothache or other pain
If you have pain or swelling, call your dentist right away. If you have an infection, you need quick treatment to help prevent problems for your baby.
How can you prevent oral problems during pregnancy?
Get regular dental checkups before and during pregnancy. At your checkups, tell your dentist the following
If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant
About medicine, you take daily. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, supplements and herbal products. Prescription medicine is medicine that your health care provider says you can take to treat a health condition. A supplement is a product you take to make up for certain nutrients like vitamin B or iron that you don’t get enough of in the foods you eat.
If your pregnancy is
high-risk. High-risk means that you, your baby or both of you are at increased risk for problems during pregnancy. Your pregnancy may be high-risk if you have a chronic health condition, you have complications from a previous pregnancy or you have other conditions that can harm your health or the health of your baby.
If your prenatal care provider has talked to you about your oral health
Dental checkups before and during pregnancy are important so your dentist can find and treat dental problems early. And regular teeth cleanings help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Are dental X-rays safe during pregnancy?
Yes. X-rays are part of regular dental care. Dental X-rays can show problems with your teeth, gums and the bones around your mouth. An X-ray is a medical test that uses radiation to make a picture on film. Radiation is a kind of energy that can be harmful to your health if you’re exposed to too much.
Dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy. They use very small amounts of radiation, and your dentist covers you with a special apron and collar to protect you and your baby. If your dentist wants to give you an X-ray, make sure she knows that you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
How are oral problems treated during pregnancy?
If you have a dental problem that needs treatment, make sure your dentist knows that you’re pregnant. Depending on your condition, you may be able to wait for treatment after your baby’s birth.
Treatments that are safe during pregnancy include the following
Medicine, like pain relievers and antibiotics to treat infections. Your dentist can give you medicine that’s safe for you and your baby during pregnancy. If your dentist prescribes you medicine, tell you prenatal care provider. Don’t take any medicine without talking to your prenatal provider first.
Local Anesthesia is medicine that lessens or prevents pain. Local anesthesia is used in a specific part of the body, like to numb your mouth for a dental filling or to have a tooth pulled. This medicine is safe to use during pregnancy.
You can have dental treatment any time during pregnancy. If it’s elective treatment, try to schedule it in the second trimester.
What can you do to help prevent oral problems?
Here’s how you can help keep your oral cavity healthy
Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and floss once a day. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Regular brushing and flossing can remove plaque and help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
If you can’t brush your teeth because of vomiting, use antacids or rinse your mouth with a mixture of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 cup of water. Rinsing can help reduce the amount of acid in your mouth. Antacids are medicines that help neutralize stomach acid.
Visit your dentist for a regular dental checkup every 6 months twice a year, even during pregnancy. At your checkup, tell your dentist that you’re pregnant.
Eat healthy foods and limit sweets or high sugar diets. Healthy foods include fruits and vegetables, lean meat, whole-grain breads and pasta and low-fat dairy products. Limit sweets and sugary foods and drink water instead of sugary drinks. Eating healthy foods helps give you and your growing baby important nutrients. Your baby’s teeth start developing between 3 and 6 months of pregnancy. Nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C and D, help your baby’s teeth grow healthy.
Don’t smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy.
Read about How To Maintain Oral Health
Read about Brushing Techniques