When you’re expecting a baby, you’re also expecting a lot of changes in your body. Cravings for strange food combinations, morning sickness and weight gain all go along with being pregnant. That’s not all though–some of the changes can be more unexpected.
Did you know that pregnancy can also have an effect on the health of your teeth and gums? Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect your gums, meaning those nine months when you’re expecting a little one are is a time when it’s even more essential to pay attention to the health of your teeth and gums. Here’s what you need to know about pregnancy and gum health.
Pregnancy and Gum Disease
Pregnant women often have an increased risk for developing gum disease for two reasons. One, being pregnant increases blood flow in the body, which can make the gums more prone to bleeding. Two, being pregnant leads to an increase in hormone levels in the body, notably progesterone, which can make the gums more sensitive and prone to inflammation.
A condition known as pregnancy gingivitis is fairly common among expectant mothers. When a woman has pregnancy gingivitis, her teeth are likely to be tender, swollen and red. They might bleed easily when she flosses or brushes her teeth.
One way to cope with pregnancy gingivitis is to see your dentist for frequent teeth cleanings during pregnancy. Practicing good oral care habits at home can also help to reduce the risk of developing gingivitis during pregnancy.
Other Oral Health Issues Connected to Pregnancy
Gum disease isn’t the only oral health issue pregnant women need to think about. Other changes to the body while you’re expecting can affect other areas of your mouth. For example, pregnant women often need to be diligent about protecting against tooth decay, especially if they are experiencing morning sickness. The acid produced by morning sickness can cause wear and tear on the tooth enamel, increasing the risk of erosion and decay.
If your diet has changed during your pregnancy, you might need to increase how often you brush daily. If you find yourself indulging in more sweets or other starchy, sugary foods during pregnancy, the increase in sugar in your diet can make you more prone to developing cavities or for the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, which can irritate or inflame the gums.
Another common issue women face during pregnancy is something called pregnancy tumors. Don’t be alarmed — pregnancy tumors aren’t cancerous or malignant. Instead, they are growths that develop on the gums, often between the teeth. They can make the gums bleed more easily and might develop as a result of excess plaque on the teeth. Usually, pregnancy tumors go away on their own.
How to Care for Your Gums and Teeth While Pregnant
How should you take care of your oral and gum health during your pregnancy? If you already brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily, keep it up. It’s also a good idea to keep the sweet treats and starchy foods to a minimum and to rinse your mouth out with water after eating anything with a lot of carbohydrates in it.
If you’re dealing with morning sickness, try rinsing your mouth out with water or mouthwash after you get sick. The rinse will help to wash away any acids that might be lingering in your mouth, minimizing your risk for decay and erosion.
Seeing Your Dentist During Pregnancy
You can — and should — continue to see your dentist for cleanings and exams during your pregnancy. Women often assume that isn’t safe to go to a dentist when pregnant. The opposite is true. It’s a good idea to keep up with your dental care in case you develop any gum issues or other oral issues while pregnant.
If you do need a dental treatment during your pregnancy, such as a filling, the local anesthetic the dentist will use is generally safe for developing fetuses and pregnant women. The same is true for dental X-rays if you need them. The lead apron you’ll wear when the dentist takes the picture will protect your baby from harm.
If you’re in the Miami area and are wondering about the effect pregnancy will have on your gum health, a periodontist can help you better understand your risk and your treatment options. Dr. John Paul Gallardo offers patients a number of different traditional and cutting-edge treatments for gum disease and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that works for you. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Gallardo in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 today.