Being pregnant is often an exciting time in your life, full of excitement, change, and preparation for your baby. Unfortunately, many women don’t realize that these nine months can also be a risky time for dental health. During pregnancy, it’s very important to maintain your teeth with general dentistry treatments such as regular cleanings and exams. At our Bloomington practice, we help our patients understand the connection between pregnancy and dental care so they can enjoy a healthy smile while expecting. If you are currently pregnant or plan to become pregnant, the information below can help you become aware of the unique dental concerns associated with carrying a baby, and what you can do to preserve your oral health and overall well-being.
Pregnancy and Cavities
Unfortunately, you are more prone to decay during pregnancy for the following reasons:
- Your diet changes. Chocolate ice cream, soda, or sour candies may be what your baby craves, but these foods can also feed dental bacteria and cause plaque to build up on your teeth.
- You suffer from morning sickness. In addition to making you uncomfortable, nausea, heartburn, and vomiting can expose your teeth and gums to acids that can wear down your enamel.
- You develop dry mouth. Some women experience reduced saliva flow during pregnancy. Since saliva helps to wash away food particles and bacteria, this condition can increase the risk of decay.
- Your hormones shift. Pregnant women generate more estrogen and progesterone, which can increase dental plaque within the mouth.
Since you are at higher risk for caries, you need to be even more conscientious about your dental hygiene while pregnant. Make sure you brush your teeth at least twice per day and drink plenty of water.
Your Oral Health and Your Baby
The bacteria that cause cavities can also lead to gum disease, so pregnant women also need to be careful about their periodontal care. On average, four out of every ten expectant women develop gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. In addition to affecting your oral health, gum disease can also impact your baby. If left untreated and allowed to progress to periodontitis (advanced gum disease), this infection can lead to low birth weight or premature labor. Flossing at least once a day can help reduce your risks. Contact us immediately if your gums begin to bleed, swell, become particularly tender, or appear red.
Which Dental Treatments Can You Have during Pregnancy?
Some women think they need to avoid the dentist altogether during pregnancy, but especially given your increased risk for caries and gum disease, it’s important to attend your biannual care appointments as a preventive measure. Pregnant women should generally avoid undergoing x-rays, so we will put off your radiography until after you’ve had your baby. It is also best to avoid anesthesia as much as possible during this time period.
If you have a dental emergency that requires immediate treatment, we can use our digital radiography system to take x-rays of your mouth, which exposes you to less radiation, and we will use only the minimal amount of anesthesia required for any necessary procedures. Dr. Chrisman and Dr. Wyse will also communicate with your obstetrician to determine the right course of action for you and your baby’s health should you encounter a dental issue.
Learn More about Dentistry during Pregnancy
Please contact our office today to learn more about how to keep your mouth, body, and baby healthy with dental care during pregnancy.