Can Pregnancy Affect Your Oral Health?

Posted on December 15, 2010 in Dental Articles

Can Pregnancy affect your oral health? The answer is Yes. You may think of your oral health as just one more thing to worry about during pregnancy, but taking care of your mouth and teeth is important during pregnancy.

PictureGrowing evidence suggests a link between gum disease and premature, underweight births. Pregnant women who have gum disease may be more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small.

  1. Pregnancy Gingivitis Most women notice changes in their gums during pregnancy. Red, swollen and bleeding gums are common symptoms of “pregnancy gingivitis”. They can start as early as the second month. The condition tends to peak around the eighth month and often tapers off after the baby is born.
  2. Tooth Erosion In women with severe morning sickness, frequent vomiting can erode the enamel on the back of the front teeth. If you are vomiting frequently, contact your family dentist for information on how to prevent enamel erosion.
  3. Dry Mouth Many pregnant women complain of dry mouth. You can combat dry mouth by drinking plenty of water and by using sugarless hard candies or gum to stimulate saliva secretion and keep your mouth moist.
  4. Excessive Saliva Less commonly, pregnant women feel they have too much saliva in their mouths. This condition occurs very early in a pregnancy and disappears by the end of the first trimester. It may occur along with nausea.

How should I take care of my teeth and mouth while I’m pregnant?

To minimize the effects of pregnancy gingivitis, practice good oral hygiene: Brush twice a day, for at least two minutes each time. Floss every day. Using a non-alcoholic antimicrobial mouth rinse also may help you control your gum infection.

Be sure to have your dentist check the health of your gums while you are pregnant. Pregnancy gingivitis usually can be treated with a professional cleaning, which can be done at any time during your pregnancy, but preferably during the second trimester. More aggressive treatments, such as periodontal surgery, should be postponed until after delivery.

Is it safe to visit the dentist while I’m pregnant?

The second trimester is the best time to receive routine dental care. If possible, avoid major procedures, reconstruction and surgery until after the baby is born. Try to avoid dental visits during the first trimester and the last half of the third trimester. During the first trimester, the fetus’s organ systems are developing, and the fetus is highly sensitive to influences from the environment. In the last half of the third trimester, there is some risk of premature delivery because the uterus is sensitive to external influences. Also, at the end of your pregnancy, it can be uncomfortable to sit in a dentist’s chair. After about 20 weeks of pregnancy, women should not lie on their backs for long periods of time. This can put pressure on large blood vessels and cause changes in circulation.

What should I do about emergency dental treatment while pregnant?

You should receive treatment if it is necessary to ease your pain, prevent infection or decrease stress on you and your fetus. Your dentist should consult with your obstetrician if there are questions about the safety of medicines or anesthesia.

Is it safe to get dental X-rays while I am pregnant?

 Studies have shown that using a lead apron will protect you and your fetus from radiation. However, most dentists do not recommend dental X-rays if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. X-rays usually are taken if they are needed for diagnosis or treatment that cannot wait until after the baby is born.

Can I take dental medications while pregnant?

Ideally, you should not take any medicines during pregnancy, especially during your first trimester. However, sometimes this is simply not possible because the benefits of a medicine outweigh the risks related to its use. Most common dental medicines can be used during pregnancy. However, some – such as sedatives and certain antibiotics – should be avoided.

Always talk to your dentist about any medicines he or she prescribes during your pregnancy. If your dentist needs to prescribe a medicine such as an antibiotic or a medicine for a tooth pain, he or she usually will confer with your obstetrician.