Pregnancy and Oral Health

iStock_000016392274MediumThere are tremendous changes going on throughout a women’s body during pregnancy and her mouth is no exception. It is especially important for a mother-to-be to maintain excellent oral hygiene practices during this special time in her life.

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Over half of all pregnant women experience a condition during pregnancy called Pregnancy Gingivitis. Caused by an increase in hormone levels, it can exaggerate a woman’s response to plaque and can in turn lead to gum bleeding, swelling, and tenderness. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing carefully and regularly, avoiding sugary snacks and rinsing thoroughly when brushing is not possible are all important measures that can help reduce a woman’s chances of getting it. See your dentist if you are having gum problems during pregnancy.

Higher Risk of Complications

A study published in 2008 in the Journal of Periodontology revealed that women who had periodontitis during their pregnancies were significantly more likely to develop preeclampsia, a serious medical condition that causes high blood pressure and puts both mother and baby at risk. If you are diabetic and pregnant, you may also be at higher risk for complications if you have gum disease. Another study showed that pregnant women with Type 1 Diabetes had higher levels of plaque and gum inflammation.

Gums May Bleed

Pregnant women may notice that their gums may bleed more easily when flossing or brushing. Don’t let this stop you from taking care of your mouth. Change to a softer brush and a waxed floss and continue keeping those gums and teeth clean and plaque-free!

Avoid Radiation

If there is even a chance that you may be pregnant, notify your dentist or dental staff as X-rays should be avoided. If, however, there is a dental emergency and an X-ray becomes absolutely necessary, don’t panic. Your dental professional can take all precautions to minimize radiation exposure. He or she may decide to postpone treatment until after the first trimester, the time at which most of the baby’s vital organs develop. If however, an infection is present, treatment might proceed immediately as mouth infections can be harmful to both you and your unborn baby.

Visit Your Dental Office Regularly

Regular cleanings and check-ups are important more now that ever if you are pregnant. Be sure to make this a priority. An increase in appointment frequency is usually advisable.

Brush and Floss Often

Brushing and flossing twice a day is an absolute minimum. Remember that pregnant woman usually eat more and more often. That translates into more opportunities for food to sit on teeth and allow bacteria to form. Brush that bacteria away as soon as you can after eating, or at very least, rinse and chew sugarless gum to minimize your chances of gum disease as much as possible.

Steven Deskin is a Dentist in general practice.

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