Profile view of a pregnant womanIt’s no secret that pregnancy can wreak havoc on a woman’s body. But did you know that includes your teeth? The increased hormones during pregnancy affect the body’s response to plaque, and that can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. The good news is pregnancy aches and pains – and even those red gums – are usually temporary. But beware the following conditions and implications to your oral health that pregnancy can bring about:

1. Pregnancy gingivitis. Because of her plethora of estrogen and progesterone, a pregnant woman’s gums tend to be more inflamed, red, sore and prone to bleeding, compared to her non-pregnant state. If you already have gum disease, it will likely get worse during pregnancy. The anecdotes to gum disease – regular brushing and flossing – make some pregnant women especially queasy. In that case, at least rinsing with a fluoridated mouthwash will help. If the gingivitis becomes more serious, we can advise periodontal disease treatment that’s safe during pregnancy.

2. More cavities. In addition to pregnancy hormones, tooth decay can be more prominent during pregnancy because of an increase in carbohydrates in your diet, the increase in acid in the mouth thanks to morning sickness, and becoming lax in oral hygiene due to a more sensitive gag reflex, those tender gums or simply sheer exhaustion. Again, our gum disease treatment options and more frequent dental cleanings can help.

3. Pregnancy tumors. These non-cancerous growths typically appear along the gum line in the second trimester and are the result of irritated gums. While they typically disappear after the baby is born, occasionally dentists recommend removing them if they are especially uncomfortable.

4. Preterm birth. The Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, reports that the bacteria that causes inflammation in the gums can potentially reach the fetus through the mother’s bloodstream. When that occurs, the bacteria encourage the uterus to produce a chemical that induces labor, leading to premature labor and low birth weight. In fact, almost 20 percent of premature births may be triggered by gum disease, and women with moderate to severe periodontitis are most at risk. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that gum disease treatment for the mother can reduce the risk – and result in a nearly 75 percent savings in the cost of medical care. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, 1 in 5 preterm births could be prevented with periodontal disease treatment.

5. Dental procedures while pregnant. While elective dental procedures should wait until after baby’s birth, non-emergency procedures are typically safe during pregnancy, with the best time for treatment between the fourth and sixth months. Anesthesia, as might be required for a filling or root canal, is not recommended during the first trimester. Dental X-rays are now considered safe during pregnancy by the American Dental Association, but if you have any concerns, discuss with your dentist.

6. Diet. A healthy diet is important for mom, but it also gives your baby a head start on good oral health. Your baby’s teeth start to develop around month three, and eating a healthy diet, particularly diary products, cheese and yogurt help those teeth, gums and bones develop properly.

The best way to ensure good oral health during pregnancy is to keep up with your regular dental appointments. A professional cleaning and check-up will check for these conditions and ensure they don’t get out of control. You may even need more frequent dental cleanings or gum disease treatment while pregnant. If you’re expecting, give Caffaratti Dental Group a call today to schedule your check-up.