Of all the health risks that can occur during your pregnancy, the effect it can have on your oral health is often overlooked. From the strain, it puts on your body’s resources while building a baby to the unpleasant side-effects of morning sickness, being pregnant can have a significant impact on your health. For expectant mothers, it’s critical that additional oral health concerns associated with pregnancy not go overlooked.
The Oral Health/Pregnancy Connection
Many studies have been performed exploring the complications that can occur with oral health during pregnancy. One study from the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research explores these concerns and how they affect the woman’s oral health. Excess blood flow that happens as a result of increased hormone levels can lead to gum inflammation that produces gingivitis type symptoms. This condition is called gestational gingivitis and typically occurs starting in the first two trimesters and carrying on until after birth. Additional risks to the mother’s oral health include:
- Enamel: Enamel can be at risk of damage from the heightened acid levels that occur due to nausea and morning sickness. This acid softens the enamel, putting it at increased risk of damage and heightened sensitivity.
- Cavities: This weakening of enamel can also make it easier for cavities to occur. A tooth-healthy diet combined with consistent oral hygiene can be difficult to maintain during pregnancy.
- Loss of Teeth: The advance of gum disease can result in the gums separating from the tooth, leaving roots exposed and increasing the risk of tooth loss.
During pregnancy, everything that happens to the woman’s body has a corresponding effect, however minor, on the development of the infant. In cases of severe periodontitis, the development of the child and the health of the mother can be impacted on a scale beyond oral health. Pre-eclampsia and premature birth have both been observed to correlate with severe cases of periodontal disease while pregnant. Thankfully there are a variety of safeguards you can use to help protect your baby and your oral health.
Protecting Your Oral Health While Pregnant
First and foremost, make sure you take extra care to maintain a good oral hygiene routine, including brushing twice a day, mouthwash, and flossing. As always, this will keep your risks of developing gingivitis to a minimum. While pregnant, you should ensure you make two visits to your dentist so they can stay ahead of any developing dental health issues. In most cases, your dentist will not perform an x-ray while you’re pregnant, though it can be done safely if necessary. On top of these steps, be sure that you maintain a high calcium diet and keep using fluoride-based toothpaste and mouthwash. Contact your dentist for a consultation as soon as you know you’re pregnant to get a plan in place.