Dental health is always important for your overall health. It is especially important for your prenatal care. This is because pregnancy increases the risk of certain dental health problems that may lead to pregnancy complications, like premature birth.
How does dental health affect pregnancy?
Pregnancy can increase your risk for oral health problems and premature labour. Some
studies show a link between gum disease and premature birth. Premature birth is any time before 37 weeks, which can be dangerous to the baby and also risk the baby having more health problems later in life.
So, as you see, taking special 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 dental health?
The changes in your body during pregnancy can affect your teeth and gums. For example:
- Your body has increased levels of certain hormones, like progesterone and oestrogen, 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 were 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.
These changes in your daily life can increase your risk for certain dental problems during pregnancy, including:
Tooth decay causing cavities, which are small, damaged areas in the surface of your teeth. 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 actually cause problems for your baby’s teeth later in life.
Gingivitis can erupt ,causing inflammation (redness and swelling) of the gums. If untreated, it can lead to more serious gum disease. Pregnancy hormones can increase your risk for gingivitis. Sixty to 75 percent of pregnant women have gingivitis. Signs and symptoms include:
- Redness and swelling
- Tenderness in the gums
- Bleeding of the gums, even when you brush your teeth gently
- Extra shiny gums
You may find you have loose teeth. This is because the high levels of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen during pregnancy can temporarily loosen the tissues and bones that keep your teeth in place, making your teeth loose.
Periodontal disease (also called periodontitis or gum disease) is a result of untreated gingivitis. This causes serious infection in the gums and problems with the bones that support the teeth. Your teeth may become loose, and they may have to be extracted (pulled). A disease such as periodontitis can lead to bacteraemia (bacteria in the bloodstream). This is classed as a very serious condition needing immediate treatment and attention. Another common cause of severe gum disease such as periodontitis is smoking.
Women can get pregnancy tumours (also called pyogenic granuloma). These tumours are not cancer. They’re lumps that form on the gums, usually between teeth. Pregnancy tumours look red and raw, and they bleed easily. They can be caused by having too much plaque (a sticky film containing bacteria that forms on teeth). These tumours usually go away on their own after giving birth, but in rare cases your dentist will remove them after you have given birth.
Morning sickness is a big cause of tooth erosion. If you have vomiting throughout the day because of morning sickness, your teeth are being exposed to too much stomach acid. This acid can harm the enamel (the hard surface) of your teeth.
What are the warning signs and symptoms of dental problems during pregnancy?
The signs of a condition are things someone else can see or notice about you, like you have a rash or you’re coughing unusually. Symptoms are things you feel yourself that others can’t see, like having a sore throat or frequently feeling dizzy.
Signs and symptoms of dental problems include:
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Mouth sores or lumps on the gums
- New spaces between your teeth
- Receding gums (when your gums pull away from your teeth so you can see the roots of your teeth).
- Gums that are red, swollen, tender or shiny; gums that bleed easily
- Toothache or other pain
Call your dentist at The Mall Dental if you have pain or swelling, as you will need quick treatment to prevent any problems arising for you and your baby.
How can you help prevent dental problems during pregnancy?
You can help prevent problems arising throughout pregnancy by having regular dental check ups from the start. Ideally dental check ups will be even more beneficial if you start them before you are pregnant so your dentist at The Mall can treat dental concerns early on.
Is it safe to have a dental X-ray during pregnancy?
Yes, X-rays are part of regular dental care and considered safe. Radiation is a kind of energy that can be harmful to your health if you’re exposed to too much. It is important for your dentist to know you are pregnant before an x-ray. Your dentist at The Mall will only take the x-ray if it is completely necessary. This uses very small amounts of radiation, and your dentist covers you with a special apron and collar to protect you and your baby.
Can you treat problems treated during pregnancy?
If you have a dental problem that needs treatment, make sure your dentist at The Mall knows that you’re pregnant. Depending on your condition, you may be able to wait for treatment until after your baby’s birth. There are some treatments that are safe during pregnancy such as:
- some painkillers and antibiotics to treat infections. Your dentist at The Mall can prescribe a safe option for you and your baby during pregnancy. If your dentist prescribes you medicine, tell your prenatal midwife about any concerns as well.
- local anesthesia is medicine that lessens or prevents pain. T medicine is also safe to use during pregnancy.
Speak to your dentist about how urgent your problems are then decide if you want to schedule it in the second trimester or once the pregnancy is complete.
Here’s how you can help keep your teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy:
- 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 have morning sickness, don’t brush your teeth straight away after vomiting. Instead, rinse your mouth regularly with plain water and carry a dentist approved chewing gum. Speak to your dentist at The Mall about this. Waiting at least 30 minutes to brush your teeth after vomiting will help.
- As soon as you are pregnant, let your dentist at The Mall know and schedule regular appointments.
- Eat healthy foods and limit sweets. Your baby’s teeth actually 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.