Expecting a baby? Expect oral health changes too.
Pregnant women may experience some changes in oral health due to a surge in hormone levels. Regular brushing and flossing will help lessen “pregnancy gingivitis,” a condition that affects most pregnant women to some degree, and causes swollen, tender gums that are prone to bleeding.
Some pregnant women develop pregnancy tumors, which are non-cancerous growths that develop when swollen gums become irritated. Sounding scarier than they are, these tumors usually disappear on their own after the baby’s birth.
Preventing Pregnancy Gingivitis
Expectant mothers, and everyone for that matter, can avoid gingivitis by keeping a clean mouth, particularly along the gum line. Tips include:
- Brushing with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day
- Brush after meals when possible
- Daily flossing
- Rinsing mouth with water or with antiplaque and fluoride mouthwashes if “morning sickness” makes brushing difficult
Need another reason to take care of mouth while pregnant? Some studies show a link between gum disease and low birth weight pre-term babies.
Visiting the Dentist while Pregnant
Teeth cleanings and check-ups are recommended for pregnant women to maintain good oral health. Optimal time to visit the dentist is from the fourth through the sixth month of pregnancy. Dental emergencies can be treated during any trimester. The expectant mother’s obstetrician should be consulted for any emergency procedures requiring anesthesia or medications.
Elective procedures that can be postponed and x-rays are not recommended for expectant mothers.
Busting the Calcium Myth
Calcium is NOT lost from a mother’s teeth during pregnancy. The growing baby’s calcium needs are met through the mother’s diet. If dietary calcium is not adequate, mineral stores from the mother’s bones will be tapped. This is one of the reasons why daily calcium intake along with prenatal vitamins is important for expecting moms.
Gain a Child, Lose a Tooth?
A New York University College of Dentistry analysis of 2,635 women aged 18 to 60 found that those who had at least one child had an increased risk of developing gingivitis. Repeat outbreaks of gingivitis increase gum disease risk. One thing to keep in mind: it may not necessarily be pregnancy leading to increasing the risk of gum disease, but moms eating some of the sugary snacks they feed their children.