What you should know about pregnancy and dental health

When women find out they’re pregnant, there are loads of health concerns, appointments, medical-based classes and new habits that come to mind, and usually, oral health care is not one of them. But a recent national study released by Cigna found that 76% of pregnant women suffered from dental health issues, such as bleeding gums and toothaches. Forty three percent of pregnant women did not schedule a dental checkup during pregnancy nor sought treatment.

A recent national study released by Cigna found that 76% of pregnant women suffered from dental health issues, such as bleeding gums and toothaches

The numerous hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can aggravate some oral health conditions such as gingivitis and more serious gum diseases. Without a dentist visit, women might not even realize the deterioration is occurring.

Increased Dental Erosion

Women who suffer from severe morning sickness and prolonged vomiting may be at risk for increased enamel erosion due to the acidity levels. Surprisingly, brushing your teeth right after getting sick actually furthers the damage because the enamel has been softened and thinned. Women are encouraged to wait an hour before brushing and should rinse with water mixed with baking soda to neutralize the stomach acid and provide a slightly fresher feeling before a full teeth brushing can occur. A tongue scraper will also remove some of the acidic flora. If you suffer from morning sickness that includes vomiting, talk to your dentist or hygienist for more information on preventing dental erosion.

Bleeding Gums or Pregnancy Gingivitis

Between the second and eighth month of pregnancy, many expectant mothers experience mild to severe swelling or bleeding gums, called pregnancy gingivitis, thanks to hormonal changes. Make an appointment with your dentist and don’t worry about treatment during pregnancy. Treatment for gingivitis in pregnant women is considered safe, as are most other dental procedures. At home, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to reduce gum irritation as much as possible and floss daily, as swelled gums make it easier for bits of food to get lodged in hard-to-reach places.

Dry Mouth

Xerostomia, or dry mouth, occurs when not enough saliva is produced or the composition of saliva changes. It’s generally caused by stress, dehydration, as a side effect from some medications, or from a hormonal imbalance during pregnancy. Dry mouth is usually a temporary condition and is quite common during pregnancy. If it persists, or is accompanied by difficulty in chewing, swallowing or speaking, it could be a sign of serious oral health issues. Dry mouth can also lead to other dental issues such as gingivitis, thrush, and tooth decay, so if you experience prolonged dryness, consult your dentist. They’ll be able to treat it with pregnancy-safe mouthwash or a saliva-boosting medication.

Pyogenic Granuloma or ‟pregnancy tumor”

A scarily-named condition that holds no life-threatening symptoms, pyogenic granulomas are small, red, round growths that can bleed. They typically appear on the face, hands, eyelids, genitals, and lips. Again, thanks to hormonal imbalances, pregnant women can get these lesions on their gums during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Visit your dentist as soon as any kind of bumps appear to avoid further discomfort if they become enlarged.

Many women never experience any of these dental maladies during pregnancy, but should you show signs, visit a dentist immediately, as research shows that extreme cases of gum disease can lead to premature birth and low birth weight.

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Posted In: Oral & Dental Health Tips