Caring for your mouth while you're pregnant is one of the most important things you can do to help keep you and your baby healthy.
Pregnancy and the promise of the pitter-patter of little feet and long afternoon snuggles with your newborn is an exciting time for any parent-to-be, but it is also a stressful time filled with a seemingly endless list of things that need to be done.
It might tempt you to put off your next cleaning or reschedule that restorative appointment but caring for your mouth and teeth while you're pregnant is one of the most important things you can do to help you and your unborn bundle of joy stay healthy.
During pregnancy, your body is working for two. It puts a strain on all your organs. Science has discovered a link between gingivitis and systemic illnesses, like high blood pressure and thyroid problems, which suggests that untreated gum disease can affect your unborn baby as well as lower your immune system. Cutting corners on brushing or skipping your daily flossing routine has also been linked to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and premature delivery.
When you're pregnant, your body increases its production of progesterone. This surge increases blood flow to the tissues of the body, including the gums. This causes inflammation in the gums. Progesterone also changes how gum tissue reacts to the bacteria in plaque, causing it to inflame even more. When this happens, you develop a condition called pregnancy gingivitis, affecting more than 40% of pregnancies. Symptoms may include bad breath and swollen, red, sensitive gums that bleed easily. Untreated gingivitis during pregnancy can lead to periodontal disease, which, in turn, can lead to preterm birth or low birth weight.
Morning sickness is one of those things that affects most but not all pregnancies. If you are one of the 70% of moms who experience morning sickness, you also have an increased risk of developing cavities.
Sometimes during pregnancy, a woman's gums begin to overgrow around and in between their teeth. It's called pregnancy tumors, but they are not cancerous and usually disappear after giving birth. It is actually an inflammatory response to plaque or food particles and can affect up to 10% of women, most of whom also have pregnancy gingivitis.
Your dentist may recommend an extra exam and cleaning to remove any excess plaque buildup and check for any cavities to help prevent pregnancy gingivitis and other pregnancy-related dental issues. They may also suggest you brush thoroughly after bouts of morning sickness and floss more often than once a day.
Pregnancy can be an exciting but overwhelming time. Brushing and flossing regularly and seeing your dentist can help keep you healthy during pregnancy. Remember, self-care isn't just spa days and pedicures; it's also taking the time to care for you and your baby.