If you have severe morning sickness or are uncomfortable in the late stages in your pregnancy, the thought of sitting in a dental chair for a routine cleaning may not be appealing. However, you need to know that your dental checkups are actually even more important when you are pregnant. The large increase in a woman’s hormones during pregnancy often causes gums to swell, bleed and trap food. This happens because as progesterone levels rise, 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. Therefore, pregnancy induces an environment in the mouth that invites gum disease or 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.
Although it is difficult to brush and floss well when you are nauseated or fit in that extra doctor’s appointment when you are busy preparing for the baby, it is so important to you and your baby that you take proper care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy.
There is evidence 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. This should be reason enough to get pregnant moms back in the dental chair.
The American Pregnancy Association gives moms-to-be these helpful suggestions for addressing dental work needs:
- The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that pregnant women eat a balanced diet, brush their teeth thoroughly with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and floss daily
- Have preventive exams and cleanings during your pregnancy
- Let your dentist know you are pregnant
- Postpone non-emergency dental work until the second trimester or until after delivery, if possible
- Elective procedures should be postponed until after the delivery
- Maintain healthy circulation by keeping your legs uncrossed while you sit in the dentist’s chair
- Take a pillow to help keep you and the baby more comfortable
- Bring headphones and some favorite music
Be sure you to contact your dentist right away if you notice signs of pregnancy gingivitis or other oral health side effects during your pregnancy. Group Health Dental strives to make all patients, including moms-to-be, comfortable and confident in the important dental care they receive.