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Top oral health concerns during pregnancy

Pregnant? Planning on becoming pregnant? Make sure to visit the dentist!

Continued—and even heightened—oral care is important to you and your unborn child. We know that oral health impacts overall health. We also know that your oral health also impacts your baby’s health.

To help you both compiled some top tooth-related concerns for mothers to be:

Gum disease

Brushing twice daily and flossing to remove plaque are especially important at this time. Fluctuating hormone levels during pregnancy can increase bacteria growth, which may result in mild gum disease—gingivitis.

Thirty to 100 percent of pregnant women experience pregnancy gingivitis, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. If you already have gingivitis, it could worsen and become periodontitis.

Research also hints at a link between gingivitis and pre-term labor and low birth weight. Studies show that women with periodontal (gum) disease are up to seven times more likely to deliver premature, low birth weight babies, according to an American Dental Hygienists Association fact sheet.

Morning sickness and nausea

Frequent vomiting can erode tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. Be sure to rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash to help wash out acid.

If toothpaste gives you nausea, try to find a mild flavor or consider using baking soda and water. Discuss these concerns with your doctor or dentist.

Pregnancy “tumors”

Some women—the AGD estimates 10 percent—develop pregnancy granuloma, also referred to as pregnancy tumors. These lumps along the gumline and between the teeth may bleed, appear red and raw, and feel bothersome, but they are not cancerous or harmful. In its “Oral health during pregnancy” handout, the American Dental Association says that while pregnancy granuloma usually go away on their own after pregnancy, they can be removed under local anesthetic.

Diet

What you eat during pregnancy impacts your oral health, as well as your baby. Teeth begin to develop during the third and sixth months of pregnancy. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health reminds expectant mothers to eat a balanced diet including calcium, protein, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and D.

In addition, the bacteria-nurturing environment in your mouth means it is wise to limit consumption of sugary foods and drinks. Cravings can be difficult to curb, but substituting fruit or flavored sugar-free water may be a better alternative. Rinse with water after eating and remember to brush!

Dental care and treatment

The ADA and others recommended that you continue visiting your dentist for regular exams and cleanings throughout your pregnancy. Be sure to tell him or her that you are pregnant as well as any medications you are taking. Discuss changes to your mouth and any questions or concerns you may have.

The Office on Women’s health, AGD, and ADA seem to agree that non-emergency dental work during pregnancy is okay. The ideal time for such treatment is from month four to six. Communicate with your dentist and obstetrician to discuss what and when treatments are appropriate.

While some of these concerns are unavoidable, continuing to practice preventive care can help alleviate their impact. If you are planning to become pregnant, see your dentist ahead of time to be sure your oral health is good from the very beginning.



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