I try to always see my dentist every 6 months to keep my pearly whites healthy. My visit was near the end of my pregnancy when I learned that I had not, one, but four cavities (two on each side that mirrored each other). I was horrified (I really was). Immediately I started to figure out the culprit. I had severe morning sickness that lasted almost to my seventh month. I was on a prescribed medication to keep food down and I had concocted a drink mixture of part Gatorade, part water, and ice to prevent dehydration. Sipping on this all day couldn’t have helped but I later learned that if you're a woman, your hormones can have a big effect on your oral health at different times in your life — puberty, menses, pregnancy, and menopause all have an impact.
Apparently it is very important to be conscious of your dental health during pregnancy.
According to EverydayHealth.com “Any infection, including periodontal infection, can cause problems in pregnancy. Studies show that pregnant women with periodontitis are seven times more likely to give birth prematurely or have an undersized baby. Women can also lose much of their calcium to the developing baby during pregnancy, and that can lead to tooth loss.”
Certain oral health conditions affect pregnant women in particular. These include:
Bleeding gums. During puberty, increased levels of female hormones cause an increase in blood supply to your gums and can affect your gum health. This can lead to greater sensitivity and more inflammation from food particles and plaque. Similar responses can occur during menstruation, when taking oral contraceptives, and during pregnancy. Gums may become swollen and bleed easily.
Gingivitis and periodontitis. Gum disease is also more common during periods of high female hormone exposure. Up to 75 percent of women get gingivitis during pregnancy, usually between the third and eighth months.
All women should follow these basic guidelines to maintain the health of their teeth and gums (especially during pregnancy):
- Brush your teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride at least twice a day.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- See your dentist regularly.
- Ask your dentist to recommend a good antimicrobial mouth rinse.
Another thing to consider is if you aren’t pregnant but are planning to be, it is a great idea to try to get any dental work, routine or special x-rays, etc. donw before you have a little peanut in the oven. A dental check up pre-pregnancy or early on may ensure that your mouth stays healthy. Also, inquire about whether frequent visits during your pregnancy may be necessary.
Pregnancy can make your gums bleed and swell; you may want to switch to a softer tooth brush during this time.
Don’t forget to see your dentist after you’ve had your little one. The months following a birth can wreak havoc on your teeth with all of the hormone changes and fatigue (meaning you may skip your daily routine).
You don’t have to be a dental hygiene fanatic when you’re pregnant, just try not to skip on brushing and flossing.
Dental health is often the last thing on an expectant moms list of to do’s and concerns. You’re doing great already, just being aware of things will cause us to make any necessary changes for our health and baby.
~You’re wonderfully made!