43% of women miss out on regular dental checkups when they are pregnant. While a massive 76% complain of oral health problems during pregnancy.
Pregnancy hormones can be hard on your teeth, but also increase your chances of bleeding gums, decay and plaque buildup.
It is important to take care of your oral health while you are pregnant. Since pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase the risk of developing gum disease. And your oral health will affect the developing baby.
Routine visits to your dentist are recommended during pregnancy. And according to the American Dental Association, dental cleaning is perfectly safe in pregnant women.
The second trimester of pregnancy is considered to be the best to get dental treatments like fillings, root canal, and crowns. To be on the safer side, it is better not to go ahead with any dental treatments during the first and the third trimester. These are critical times in the growth and development of your baby. There are also many other important things pregnant women should put into practice to combat the dental obstacles.
Here are 5 oral care tips while you are pregnant:
1. Brush and Floss Often
If you experience severe morning sickness, the acid on your teeth can cause decay and dental issues. If you are vomiting, make sure to brush your teeth after every episode. Your body also interacts with bacteria and sugars differently during pregnancy. So you will want to step up your brushing.
2. Avoid Sweets and Eat Healthy
Since pregnancy hormones affect your mouth, you should avoid too many sugary treats. It is more important now than ever to brush your teeth after eating any sweets. If you do get a craving for something sweet, here are a few good ideas:
- Sugar-free ice pops
- Sugar-free jellos
- Fresh fruits
- Dark Chocolate
- A glass of chocolate milk
Try to stick to fresh fruits, lean meats, and low sugar drinks. Stay away from fast food, processed food, and high-calorie beverages.
You will notice your gums will bleed more due to an escalated estrogen and progesterone levels. Flossing a few times a day helps to clean plaque and food debris. It will significantly reduce bleeding from the gums, to get your teeth cleaned.
4. Regular Check-Ups
Keep up with your regular 6 monthly teeth cleanings during pregnancy. Doing this you will make sure that dental problems are spotted early on and you can also prevent serious dental problems from developing in the first place. You can always wait on x-rays until the baby is born but you must see a dentist especially when:
- If your teeth get sensitive to hot or cold.
- Your gums are puffy or bleeding.
- You have a family history of tooth decay or gum disease.
- You use tobacco products or smoke.
- Your mouth is often dry.
5. Avoid Dental Procedures
Procedures like teeth whitening and cosmetic dentistry should be postponed until after the baby’s birth. And refrain from dental x-rays during pregnancy. If an x-ray is absolutely essential, make sure that your stomach is shielded by an apron before it’s exposed.
6. Other Tips
Women who are diabetic are more prone to gum disease. So keeping your sugar levels low is recommended. Smoking also worsens the problem and should completely be avoided during pregnancy.
Here are some dental problems women might face during pregnancy:
Gingivitis is a common gum disease that causes swelling, itching and redness in the gum area near the base of the teeth. Up to 70% of pregnant women are affected by Gingivitis because of the change in hormone levels during pregnancy.
It is usually harmless, but when left unaddressed, it could lead to tooth decay. Here are a few symptoms:
- Bad breath
- Tender and receding gums
- Dark red or dusky gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
Periodontitis weakens the bones that keep the teeth attached to the jaw. This causes inflammation in the gums and the supporting structure of the teeth. In severe cases, it can lead to loss of teeth.
It also increases the risk of pre-term labor and develops high blood pressure in pregnant women. What’s even more concerning is that Periodontitis can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Hence, you must visit your dentist at the earliest if you see these symptoms:
- Swollen and bleeding gums
- Gums pulling away from the teeth
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
During pregnancy, you should take the best care of your mouth. Another important tip is to talk to your local water company and make sure your city water contains fluoride. If it doesn’t, then you may need a supplement.
You must see your dentist immediately on seeing the slightest problem. It can help you prevent more serious ones such as pre-term labor or high blood pressure. Stay proactive when it comes to dental health and keep yourself and the baby healthy.
Author Bio: Dr. Anu Isaac, DMD, runs a successful dental practice in Salem, MA. As the founder of Coral Dental Care, she is dedicated to creating healthy, beautiful smiles for her patients and also to educating dental and non-dental community with her engaging articles on all things related to oral health, recent dental innovations, and latest treatment modalities.