How Often Should I Visit The Dentist When I’m Pregnant? | Our Dental Blog
How Often Should I Visit The Dentist When I’m Pregnant?
Aug 7 2019
Dental hygiene is crucial in every stage of our life, even infancy. For women who are expecting, there are a few distinct challenges to face, both for their oral health and the development of the baby. Issues like morning sickness and boosted hormones, along with a change in diet can trigger many different negative side effects in the whole body. This piece highlights a few of the mouth-related issues that may take place during pregnancy.
What is Pregnancy Gingivitis?
A common side-effect of pregnancy is what is known as pregnancy gingivitis. This involves the gums becoming inflamed due to hormonal changes. Because of the extra blood flow to the gums, they may become swollen, sensitive and more irritable. The same hormonal changes may also decrease the ability for the body to fight off periodontal infections, leading to a higher chance of gingivitis developing. A sign of this happening is sore gums and bleeding when flossing. Pregnancy gingivitis most commonly occurs during the second trimester.
When left unchecked, gingivitis can grow into gum disease (periodontitis). In addition to potential health problems for the mother, periodontitis can put the baby at risk as well and is a factor in preterm birth. It's recommended that patients schedule at least one dental check-up during the course of their pregnancy, eat a well-balanced diet, and make sure to brush their teeth twice a day. A warms salt water rinse can help with the effects of swollen gums as well.
Increased Risk of Tooth Decay
A good diet is important for both the mother and the baby, though when it comes to morning sickness, an increased food intake could mean more acid in the mouth. This acid can damage tooth enamel, leading to cavities. Brushing after morning sickness is a good idea, but be careful not to do it immediately afterward—acid temporarily weakens the enamel, and brushing too soon could damage it.
Maintaining good oral home-care is very important. Some patients experience a more sensitive gag reflex which can be triggered by brushing their teeth, resulting in a lax in proper home-care. This can lead to negative effects on the pregnancy, such as intrauterine growth restriction, premature delivery or gestational diabetes.
During the second trimester, swollen tissue can form at the gumline or between teeth. These are known as pregnancy tumors. Pregnancy tumors aren't cancerous and will usually disappear after the baby is born. The assumption is that these tumors are caused by an excessive buildup of plaque at the gumline. They can be red and raw and may bleed very easily. If the patient is concerned by them, they should check with Dr. Sato to see if they might need surgical removal.
The above are some of the common oral concerns when it comes to pregnancy. Fortunately, keeping up with regular brushing and flossing, eating a well-rounded diet and avoiding excess sugar can help make you less prone to these potential complications.
According to the March of Dimes, it can sometimes be a good idea for the dentist to postpone certain treatments during the early stages of pregnancy. This can help avoid any complications during the development of the baby. If the mother has suffered a miscarriage in the past, it is important to let the dentist know, in order to help ensure the safety of the mother and the baby. Additionally, if an x-ray is required during a dental exam, there's little to be concerned about with exposure, as a protective apron will shield the patient's body.
Remember: a good dental hygiene routine is always important, and especially during pregnancy. The same goes for diet, so it's recommended that the patient limit candy and snack foods to stay cavity-free and to improve the baby's development as well.
Dr. Sato wants all of his patients to maintain good dental hygiene. If you’re noticing any issues, or if you’re due for an exam, contact Dr. Sato today!