How to Care for Your Teeth during Pregnancy

How to Care for Your Teeth during Pregnancy

By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have a pretty good handle on our oral health regimen.  However, there are certain situations in which your regular routine may not suffice to maintain optimal oral health.

 

Your daily routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing after every meal, or twice a day at minimum, is a great start when it comes to maintaining oral health.  These steps help to clear away food particles and bacteria that can lead to plaque and tartar buildup if left unchecked.  When you visit your dentist regularly for checkup and cleaning, you further increase your opportunities to maintain oral health and avoid serious issues like gum disease and tooth decay.

 

That said, there are definitely going to be times when life throws a curveball.  For example, you might get hit with a literal curveball at your league baseball game, causing trauma to your mouth.  Or you may suffer illness or find yourself in need of a medication that causes dry mouth or other harmful side effects.

 

Of course, you should know that even normal conditions like pregnancy could have an impact on your oral health.  In addition to the many other changes a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy, a variety of oral health complications could arise.  Here are just a few things every woman should know about caring for teeth during pregnancy, including common conditions and what you can do to prevent or treat them.

 

Morning Sickness

Many women suffer from this common side effect of pregnancy, but you might not realize how hard it can be on your teeth.  Not only can frequent vomiting bring your teeth into contact with stomach acid, potentially causing enamel erosion and subsequent difficulties, but persistent morning sickness may impact your ability to get adequate nutrients.  In addition, it could make it difficult to brush your teeth without gagging.

 

Naturally, expectant mothers will do everything in their power to consume adequate nutrients to support their own health and that of the baby, but what about protecting your oral health?  If you’re vomiting frequently and/or having trouble brushing, switch to a soft bristle toothbrush (if you haven’t already) and mild toothpaste that has less chance of irritating your sensitive palate.

 

A toothpaste containing baking soda is ideal as this ingredient will help to neutralize any acid in your mouth.  If you simply can’t brush, at least rinse your mouth with water or a suitably mild mouthwash.

 

Pregnancy Tumors

This condition sounds scarier than it actually is.  Some women develop small, benign growths along the gums, most often during the second trimester of pregnancy.  This is caused by swelling, partly related to pregnancy hormones, but possibly also associated with plaque buildup.  The tumors are often compared to raspberries in appearance.

 

These growths may cause discomfort and bleed easily, but they are not an outright cause for concern.  In most cases, they disappear after childbirth, but if they cause you extreme discomfort, you can speak to your dentist about removing them.

 

Gingivitis

As you probably know, pregnancy causes a variety of hormonal shifts in the body, along with a host of potential side effects (i.e. strange food cravings, mood swings, etc.).  These hormonal changes can also lead to a condition called pregnancy gingivitis, characterized by gums that are swollen, sensitive, and prone to bleeding.

 

This has to do with increased blood flow to the gums, as well as unusual immune responses that could allow for increased bacterial growth, leading to plaque and tartar buildup.  Pregnancy gingivitis tends to become most notable in the second trimester of pregnancy.

 

Dental Supervision

The best thing you can do to optimize oral health during pregnancy is continue to practice proper oral care at home as much as possible, as well as stick to regularly scheduled dental visits.  Brushing is essential, although you should consider switching to a soft bristle toothbrush so as not to further irritate sensitive gum tissue, and you need to continue flossing if at all possible.

 

Examination, cleaning, and even x-rays can all be performed throughout pregnancy, and precautions will be taken to protect you and your baby.  You may want to put off certain dental procedures, especially elective procedures, until after childbirth, but immediate issues such as cavities should be treated as soon as possible to reduce the risk of infection.

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