Taking care of your dental health is always important, but since pregnancy can affect your dental health and increase your risk of certain health problems, it’s even more important to take good care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy. Studies have shown a link between gum disease and low birthweight and premature birth, so how well you take care of your oral health impacts your baby as well. Here’s a closer look at how pregnancy affects your dental health and some tips you can use to prevent dental health problems during your pregnancy.
How Pregnancy Affects Dental Health
When you’re pregnant, all the changes that occur in your body can have an effect on teeth and gums. More blood flows through the body, hormone levels are rising, and there’s more acid in the mouth during pregnancy. All of these changes increase the risk of dental health problems such as:
- Loose Teeth – High levels of estrogen and progesterone during your pregnancy may affect the bones and tissues keeping teeth in place, resulting in loose teeth.
- Pregnancy Tumors – It’s important to note that the tumors aren’t cancer. They’re small lumps that can occur on swollen gums between your teeth. Sometimes they can bleed as well. In most cases, they go away on their own.
- Gingivitis – High levels of progesterone may result in gingivitis while pregnant, and if you don’t treat it properly, it can become periodontitis, a serious form of gum disease.
- Periodontitis – This serious form of gum disease occurs when there’s swelling and infection in the bones and gums keeping teeth in place. This may cause your teeth to become loose and could even result in tooth loss.
- Tooth Decay – During pregnancy you have more acid in the mouth than you normally do, increasing your risk of tooth decay. If you’re dealing with morning sickness and vomiting, this becomes even more of a problem.
Preventing Dental Health Problems During Pregnancy
While you do have a higher risk for certain dental health problems while you’re pregnant, there are steps you can take to prevent these problems. To minimize the risk of dental health problems while you’re pregnant, try following these tips:
- Tip #1 – Keep Up with Routine Dental Hygiene – Your gums need special attention while you’re pregnant. Make sure you’re keeping up with routine dental hygiene, including brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day.
- Tip #2 – Rinse Well After Vomiting – Some women have a difficult time brushing due to morning sickness. If you can’t brush right away, at least make sure you’re rinsing your mouth well after vomiting with water or a good fluoride mouthwash to rinse away excess acid that can damage your teeth.
- Tip #3 – Stay Hydrated to Prevent Dry Mouth – Dry mouth is a common problem for women during pregnancy, and it increases your risk of infections and tooth decay. Make sure you drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated. You can chew sugarless gum as well to improve saliva production.
- Tip #4 – Avoid Sugary Snacks – Sweet cravings are very common for pregnant women, but the more often you snack on sugary foods, the greater your risk of dealing with tooth decay during your pregnancy.
- Tip #5 – Make Sure You’re Eating a Balanced, Healthy Diet – About three months into your pregnancy, your baby’s teeth are starting to develop. This means you need to eat a balanced, healthy diet that contains foods like yogurt, cheeses, and other dairy products since they contain important essential minerals that are needed for your baby to develop healthy bones, teeth, and gums.
You still need to head to your dentist for routine checkups and cleanings while you are pregnant. Be sure to let your dentist know that you are pregnant and notify your dentist of any medications you’re taking. Those regular checkups are important for finding and treating any dental problems you do have quickly before they become a problem. After you have your baby, it’s also important to head back to the dentist for an exam to check for any problems that may need to be addressed that couldn’t be dealt with while you were pregnant.