For most women, pregnancy presents many challenges as the body changes and nourishes a growing baby. As you try to schedule all of your OB appointments and deal with morning sickness and other pregnancy side effects, it may be easier to just put your six-month dental cleaning on the back burner. However, oral hygiene and professional dental care is not something that should be skipped or slacked on during those nine months. In fact, the massive increase in a woman’s hormones during pregnancy creates many specific challenges inside your mouth. For example, many women have gums that swell, bleed and trap food causing increased gum irritation. If ignored, your irritated gums will quickly become gingivitis. Nearly 50% to 70% of all pregnant women will experience the oral health side effect of pregnancy gingivitis, usually between the 2nd and 8th month of pregnancy.
So what exactly is happening inside your mouth during pregnancy? Progesterone levels rise and it causes an increase in bacteria growth around the gums. To make matters worse, pregnancy makes gum tissue even more susceptible to plaque than normal. You will find that you need to put in extra effort while brushing and flossing to prevent plaque build up and eliminate unwanted bacteria. This can be especially difficult for moms-to-be that are experiencing extreme nausea and morning sickness. However, your baby’s health is actually at stake here. Evidence suggests that pregnancy gingivitis is linked to preterm birth. One study in The Journal of the American Dental Association revealed that expecting mothers that had persistent or chronic gum disease were four to seven times more likely to give birth prematurely to underweight babies. So even if it is inconvenient or sounds outright nauseating, get yourself back in the dental chair during pregnancy.
The American Pregnancy Association gives pregnant women some helpful suggestions for addressing dental work needs such as keeping all preventative exams and cleanings during pregnancy but postponing any non-emergency dental procedures until the second semester or after delivery. Always tell your dentist if you are pregnant and certainly let your hygienist know if you suspect gingivitis or have bleeding gums. Eating a balanced diet, flossing and brushing with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste twice a day is essential for your baby’s growth and maintaining a healthy mouth throughout pregnancy.
Group Health Dental is proud to serve moms-to-be in a comfortable, caring environment. They will ensure you get the safe, effective dental care that you deserve during these special months.