Pregnancy is a magical time filled with excitement, visits to the doctor, hospital tours, and setting up your baby’s nursery. Your body will experience a lot of changes, and your mouth is no exception. We, at Dental Care of North Carolina, would like to congratulate you on the expected arrival of your little one and are here to support your oral health every step of the way! You can always count on us for quality, gentle care.
Pregnancy and Oral Health
Being pregnant can impact your oral health in many ways. Between hormonal changes, morning sickness, and food cravings, your teeth are at higher risk of developing dental disease.
The following are some oral health concerns of pregnant women:
Pregnancy Gingivitis: Hormonal changes during pregnancy not only affect your body but can also play a role in making your gums swell, leading to a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. Approximately 70 percent of pregnant women end up developing gum disease, as early as the second month. It typically peaks around the eighth month of pregnancy and usually tapers off after the baby is born. If you have any bleeding in your gums, make sure to schedule a dental visit. We may recommend more frequent professional dental cleanings until your baby is born.
Dental Cavities: Constant snacking, grazing, and craving sugary treats during pregnancy can increase your risk of developing tooth decay and cavities. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria begins forming on your teeth. The bacteria convert the sugars and starches left sitting in your mouth to acid that attacks tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Make sure you rinse your mouth after consuming a sweet snack, and better yet, consider opting for healthy alternatives such as raw vegetables or fruits. Your smile will thank you!
Tooth Erosion: Morning sickness can also cause a host of dental problems. Frequent vomiting exposes your teeth to stomach acids, which can lead to tooth enamel erosion, sensitivity, and decay. It’s important not to brush your teeth right after vomiting because the acids in the mouth will erode your teeth as you brush. Before brushing, rinse your mouth out with water or with a fluoride mouthwash to keep the acid level under control. If you are vomiting frequently, contact us for information on how to prevent enamel erosion.
Dry Mouth: Many moms-to-be complain of dry mouth, which increases the risk for problems such as tooth decay and infections. You can combat pregnancy dry mouth by drinking plenty of water and by using sugarless hard candies or gum to enhance saliva production and keep your mouth moist. These should contain xylitol, which helps reduce harmful cavity-causing bacteria.
Pregnancy Tumors: Sometimes, expectant moms develop lumps along the gum line and between the teeth. These harmless growths are characterized by red, raw-looking mulberry-like surfaces that can bleed easily. Although they are called pregnancy tumors, they are not cancerous and should not be cause for alarm. They usually resolve on their own after pregnancy but can be removed under a local anesthetic if they cause discomfort.
Your Dental Health and Your Developing Baby
Keeping your mouth healthy will reflect on your child’s oral health. Cavity-causing bacteria during pregnancy and after delivery can transmit from a mother’s mouth to the mouth of the newborn. Early contact with these bacteria can lead to early childhood cavities and the need for extensive dental care at a young age.
Your gum health may have an impact on your baby’s health. Some studies have established a link between gum disease and premature delivery and lower birth weights, which can increase a baby’s risk of serious health conditions. Preventive oral care is the best method to prevent gum disease and its potential consequences on your unborn child.
Healthy Practices for Healthy Smiles
Maintaining meticulous oral habits before and during pregnancy will protect your smile and can help reduce the risk of future dental problems in your newborn. Make sure you brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride to remove plaque, and floss between your teeth to keep your mouth clean and healthy.
Your baby’s teeth will begin developing between the third and sixth months of pregnancy. Make sure you consume a nutritious, balanced diet rich in protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and D, to help ensure that your baby’s teeth and bones develop properly. Limiting acidic and sugary foods and beverages are best for you and your baby’s oral health.
Dental Care During Pregnancy
Before becoming pregnant, we recommend a dental exam and cleaning to have any necessary preventive or restorative dental procedures completed. You should continue to see us regularly during your pregnancy for dental exams and professional cleanings to keep your smile in tip-top shape.
Quality Dental Care in Morrisville and Greensboro
Contact Dental Care of North Carolina to learn more about maintaining your oral health before, during, and after your pregnancy. We encourage you to include your oral health in your daily self-care routine and to keep us informed of any changes in your oral health during your pregnancy. Call us and schedule your appointment today!