Maintaining Optimal Oral Health During Pregnancy
Staying healthy and well is at the forefront of every soon-to-be mom’s mind. During pregnancy, you’ll be seeing your doctor more often than usual and doing whatever you can to care for your body and your developing baby. But you might be wondering, What about my oral health?
Most elective medical procedures are postponed until after pregnancy for the safety of both mother and baby. While this is true, it does lead to a common misconception that receiving dental treatment while pregnant may be unsafe or unadvised. The truth is receiving necessary dental treatment while pregnant is safe, and more often than not, it will improve the health of the mother and baby.
Why is oral health so important during pregnancy?
Your oral and overall health share a very strong connection. Poor oral health makes optimal physical health difficult to achieve, and vice versa. As a pregnant woman, what’s going on with your teeth and gums is equally as important as the physical changes your body is experiencing.
Maintaining optimal oral health during pregnancy will:
- Reduce your chances of developing pregnancy gingivitis or tooth decay
- Support your general physical health as well as your baby’s
- Reduce your chances of developing digestive trouble
- Allow you to gain maximum nutrition from your food
Your mouth is also a gateway to your body. It’s a vascular area, rich with highways of blood vessels that are connected to every other area of your body. Because of this, if an infection develops in the mouth, there is a greater risk of bacteria entering the body through these blood vessels. This is why maintaining great oral health and seeing your dentist regularly during pregnancy is important.
Are the risks of dental problems higher during pregnancy?
You’re going through an incredible transformation during pregnancy, and your physical body will be under more stress as it grows and protects your developing baby. Your body is also experiencing a huge change in hormones. All of these factors combined can increase your risk of developing these three oral health issues.
1. Pregnancy Gingivitis
Pregnancy gingivitis is a condition that can occur in expecting mothers, even if they have no previous history of gingivitis or gum disease. It’s triggered by hormonal changes and a naturally lowered immune system that occurs when pregnant. If you have pregnancy gingivitis, you’ll notice the classic “inflamed gums” symptoms, like tenderness, puffiness, and light bleeding when flossing or brushing.
Pregnancy gingivitis can develop into gum disease or even periodontitis (severe gum disease) without treatment.
2. Tooth Decay
Expecting mothers are more likely to develop cavities for two reasons. Firstly, many pregnant moms have a change in diet due to pregnancy cravings, often consuming more carbohydrates to keep up their energy levels. Sugary, acidic, sour, and salty foods can harm tooth enamel and encourage tooth decay.
The second reason tooth decay is usually more prevalent during pregnancy is because of morning sickness. Not only does throwing up feel terrible, but it can also cause enamel erosion on your teeth. As enamel wears down, it becomes much more susceptible to decay. Similarly, if you’re often experiencing acid reflux while pregnant, this same issue can occur.
3. Oral Tumors
Though less rare than gingivitis and cavities, another oral health condition that can occur during pregnancy are benign oral tumors, sometimes called pregnancy tumors. These tumors are small growths that develop on the gums, usually between the teeth. These bumps aren’t cancerous or dangerous, but they are rather small swollen bumps believed to be triggered by plaque buildup.
In most cases, these pregnancy tumors vanish after the baby is born, but it’s still important for your dentist to be informed of any oral growths.
Which dental care procedures are safe during pregnancy?
An experienced dentist who is knowledgeable in prenatal dental care will only recommend dental treatment during pregnancy if it’s necessary to protect the health of you and your baby. It’s typically advised to have dental work done in the second trimester if possible.
In addition to your routine six-month checkup and cleaning, it’s also safe to receive:
- Local anesthesia (numbing)
- Traditional or digital X-rays
- Composite tooth fillings
- Dental crowns
- Emergency dental care (e.g., urgent root canal)
For more invasive procedures, like a dental implant, it’s recommended to wait until after the baby is born. Elective or cosmetic dentistry procedures, such as professional teeth whitening or veneers, should also be postponed until after pregnancy.
Remember, it’s very important to always inform your dentist of your pregnancy, even if you’re only a few weeks along.
Gentle Dental Care for Bee Cave and Lakeway, TX, Families
If you’re located in Bee Cave or Lakeway, TX, you can rely on Tomasik Family Dental to support you throughout your pregnancy. Our team is family-focused and provides a compassionate approach to dental care in a welcoming office outfitted with the latest and greatest in dental technology. We will prioritize your prenatal dental care needs and, as a family dentist, we’ll care for your baby’s smile as well.
You can schedule an appointment today by calling our office or requesting a visit online.