Pregnancy can be an exciting yet challenging time. During this busy time of keeping up with appointments, taking care of yourself, and preparing for the new arrival, many women don’t give much thought to their oral health during their nine months being pregnant.
However, oral health during pregnancy deserves more attention than you think. Hormone changes in the body as well as other changes cause a variety of oral cavity concerns that you should know about during pregnancy. In fact, dentists suggest you should get a checkup at some point during your pregnancy to ensure your smile is healthy, especially if you’re experiencing any adverse symptoms with your teeth and gums.
When it comes to protecting your health and the health of your baby, maintaining proper oral health during pregnancy is important. Be aware of the following dental concerns you might experience during your time being pregnant!
Gum Disease Is More Likely
Perhaps the oral health concern you’ve most likely heard about and the most common is the onset of gingivitis during pregnancy.
Although not full-blown periodontal disease, gingivitis causes gum swelling and bleeding. Fortunately, gingivitis is considered reversible, and for many pregnant women, is usually temporary, peaking in the month just before birth and subsiding after your child is born.
Gum issues during pregnancy happen as the result of hormonal shifts in the body. Both progesterone and estrogen are higher and can lead to a growth of bacteria that are responsible for gum inflammation. Many women notice that their gums are red, tender, or bleed during pregnancy.
Due to these changes, the immune response to these harmful bacteria is more complicated as well. Your body may not be as adept to fight off these bacteria and lead you to be more susceptible to gum disease.
Since gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight, getting this issue addressed is paramount. Keeping up with your oral care routine as well as visiting your dentist in Asheville can help you keep your gums healthy during pregnancy.
Although not every woman will experience morning sickness during pregnancy, more than 50% will. Morning sickness doesn’t just happen in the morning nausea and vomiting can happen at any point during the day and is most prevalent between six and twelve weeks of pregnancy.
Unfortunately, vomiting can have negative effects on your oral health. The acids from your stomach are extremely harsh, and when they end up in your mouth, they can erode away enamel on the back of your teeth. With damaged tooth enamel, tooth sensitivity and tooth decay are more likely.
Although morning sickness is considered normal, you may want to visit your dentist if you’re vomiting often to see what you can do to help protect your teeth. Remember to not brush immediately after vomiting, as stomach acids will weaken your tooth enamel and make it more likely to be damaged by your toothbrush bristles.
What you can do is rinse with water after vomiting and again before brushing about 30 minutes later. It’s essential to take care of your teeth during this time to protect against irreversible enamel damage, so consult with your dentist if you’re concerned about the effects of morning sickness on your smile.
Dry mouth is a less common oral health symptom of pregnancy but can be a side effect of morning sickness. The hormonal shifts we discussed earlier can also cause dry mouth during your pregnancy.
Experiencing dry mouth can make you more susceptible to tooth decay and buildup of plaque, which, as we know, can cause tooth decay and gum disease. It’s essential to stay hydrated to help combat the effects of dry mouth. Drinking plenty of water, reducing your caffeine intake, and chewing gum with xylitol can help your oral cavity stay moist and protected.
Dry mouth can also cause bad breath, so staying hydrated can help you curb this annoying problem. Certain medications can cause dry mouth as well, so if you’re on any of the many medications that can cause dry mouth and pregnant, your symptoms may be worse and you may need to speak with your doctor about switching medications in order to help protect your smile during this time.
Pregnancy Tumors (Pyogenic Granuloma)
Technically called pyogenic granuloma, pregnancy tumors are overgrowths of tissue in the mouth that only affect 5% of pregnancies.
This tissue typically grows between the gums and is never cancerous. Appearing between the second and third trimester, these tumors are suspected to be the result of hormonal changes throughout the body during pregnancy.
If you do experience a pregnancy tumor, you might see a period of rapid growth before the tumor stabilizes. If your tumor is obstructive or uncomfortable, you can opt to have it removed by your dentist in Asheville.
Pregnancy tumors usually only require monitoring, not treatment, but getting them evaluated by your dentist is always a good idea, especially if you’re experiencing any discomfort or symptoms as a result of the excess tissue in your mouth.
Since pyogenic granulomas have a lot of blood vessels, they typically appear reddish in color and can bleed. Bleeding is the most common complaint of people who have pregnancy tumors.
Maintaining a Healthy Smile Throughout Your Pregnancy
While pregnancy brings many changes, one of the changes you shouldn’t overlook during this time are the changes to your oral health. With some oral health issues having the potential to be hereditary, it’s important to have the healthiest smile possible for your baby.
Being aware of changes in the oral cavity due to hormones can help you to better prepare for your pregnancy. Fortunately, you don’t have to bear the responsibility of having great oral health alone your Asheville dentist is here to help you maintain a healthy smile throughout your pregnancy.
Checking in with your dentist during your pregnancy can help you to ensure your teeth and gums are ready for your little one to arrive safe and sound. We invite you to schedule a consultation with us at Saunders DDS when you’re expecting to ensure a safe and healthy smile. We look forward to helping you with your oral care!