When you think about health concerns related to being pregnant, problems with your teeth probably don’t immediately jump to mind. While rarely discussed, certain elements of being pregnant put your oral health at risk. Morning sickness alone is a serious concern, as nausea produces additional acid that can impact our teeth. If vomiting occurs, the situation becomes even more concerning as stomach acids can cause serious damage to your dental enamel. Taking additional care of your oral health is essential to a beautiful smile when you hold your baby for the first time.
How Pregnancy Can Impact Your Oral Health
Studies published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research have revealed that oral health concerns are a very real part of pregnancy. One oral health concern specific to pregnancy is gestational gingivitis and is the result of hormones creating boosted blood flow leading to gum inflammation. These inflamed gums bleed in a way similar to traditional gingivitis, hence the name. Other risks that present themselves during pregnancy include:
- Enamel: Damage to enamel during pregnancy is typically the result of acid occurring as a result of nausea and vomiting that are a common part of morning sickness. This acid causes enamel to soften, resulting in an increased risk of sensitivity and damage.
- Cavities: Enamel that has become weakened due to the above concern is susceptible to the development of cavities. Combining a tooth-health diet and a strict dental hygiene practice can help preserve your teeth throughout.
- Loss of Teeth: If gum disease takes hold, it’s possible that the gums will pull away from the tooth, resulting in gum pockets and exposing the roots to damage from decay.
All of the changes a woman’s body goes through as part of pregnancy have the potential to have a serious effect on their health and the health of the infant. Severe periodontitis has been associated with developmental concerns as well as premature birth and pre-eclampsia. If the gingivitis is severe enough, the infection can spread into the bloodstream, putting the lives of both mother and baby at risk.
Protecting Your Oral Health While Pregnant
It all starts with a consistent routine of oral hygiene, including flossing, mouthwash, and brushing twice a day. Your risk of gingivitis will be minimal when these practices are adhered to. In addition, you should schedule two special visits to your dentist during your pregnancy so they can keep a close eye on your oral health. X-Rays can be performed while you’re pregnant, but they are generally avoided in spite of being perfectly safe for both mother and infant. You’ll also want to be certain that your diet contains sufficient levels of calcium and that you’re using fluoride-containing mouthwash and toothpaste. The moment you know you’re pregnant, you should call and schedule a consultation with your dentist.