Pregnancy is a very busy time for a woman’s body. There are a lot of changes happening and some of those changes can affect your mouth. One of the main changes is called “pregnancy gingivitis”. This is when normally healthy gums become swollen and irritated because of the increase of hormones, like progesterone. Gums can hurt and even bleed when brushing and flossing. Although the increase in hormones causes the gums to overreact to the bacteria under your gum line, it is presence of the bacteria that is the real cause of gingivitis. Routine visits to your hygienist and good home care can help reduce the amount of bacteria. Sometimes, it may even be recommended to have more frequent hygiene visits during your pregnancy as gum disease has been linked to preterm delivery.
Cravings and frequent snacking during pregnancy can also affect your oral health. Snacks high in sugar and acid can cause tooth decay and untreated tooth decay can lead to tooth loss. Choose healthy, well-balanced and nutritious snacks when cravings hit. Also, be sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day to help reduce the occurrence of cavities while pregnant.
If planning ahead, schedule a check-up and cleaning with your dentist prior to becoming pregnant. If there are any concerns they can be treated early and safely. If you are already pregnant, it may be a good idea to see your dentist to as soon as possible avoid any needed emergency treatment. Usually, the second trimester is the safest time to receive dental treatment. Elective procedures can be put off until after you deliver your baby but it will be best to eliminate sources of infection in your mouth before baby comes.
Sources: Pregnancy & Oral Health. American Dental Association, 2005.