Pregnancy can be a stressful time for a woman’s body. With the changes a woman’s body goes through during pregnancy, she has to pay extra careful attention to many aspects of her health. Pregnancy can lead to dental issues such as gum disease in some women, so it is important for them to practice good oral hygiene.

During pregnancy, the increased hormones in a woman’s body can lead to an inflamed response to plaque in the mouth. If a pregnant woman has excessive bacteria in her mouth due to poor oral hygiene, the bacteria can also enter her bloodstream through her gums and travel to the uterus, causing all sorts of problems for the baby. Oral health is an important part of prenatal care; with proper hygiene and assistance from a dentist, pregnant women can protect their children and their teeth!

To help expectant moms maintain proper oral health, our staff at Advanced Dental Care of Indiana has compiled this guide outlining the correlation between pregnancy and dental health! Read on to find out how expectant mothers can protect their babies by caring for their oral health.

Gum Problems

When a woman becomes pregnant, her body undergoes many hormonal changes; the placenta produces high levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy. Research has shown that this increase in hormone levels during pregnancy leaves women more susceptible to gingivitis — irritated gums that bleed due to inflammation and swelling.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 75% of pregnant women struggle with gingivitis. When untreated, gingivitis can lead to bone loss in the jaw, causing teeth to become loose and even fall out. Expectant mothers may also find themselves suffering from pregnancy epulis, a localized enlargement of the gum that bleeds with the slightest irritation.

Research has also shown a link between gingivitis in pregnant women and premature birth with low birth weight, which can leave babies susceptible to a range of health issues such as cerebral palsy or problems with eyesight and hearing. The best way to combat gingivitis during pregnancy is to maintain good oral hygiene habits and attend regular dental check-ups. If you have gum problems while pregnant, it is also important to have your gums checked after you’ve given birth to ensure there is no permanent damage.

Vomiting

We all know that pregnancy is many times accompanied by morning sickness. In fact, 70% of pregnancies are accompanied by nausea and vomiting. This occurs because pregnancy hormones soften the ring of muscle in the esophagus that keeps food inside the stomach. Vomiting has a negative effect on oral hygiene as it coats teeth in bacteria and creates an acidic environment in the mouth. The bacteria and acid brought into the mouth by morning sickness can cause erosion of the mother’s enamel, the protective film over teeth. If not resolved, enamel erosion can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss.

If you’re struggling with morning sickness and are concerned about your oral hygiene, we recommend avoiding brushing your teeth directly after vomiting because if your teeth are coated in bacteria and acid, the motion of the toothbrush may scratch the enamel. Instead, you can rinse your mouth first with plain water and follow up with mouthwash. If you find it difficult to brush your teeth because of nausea, try switching to a more bland-tasting toothpaste while pregnant.

Cavities

Pregnant women are at an increased risk for developing cavities for two reasons. The first reason is dietary change. Pregnancy is usually accompanied by food cravings that may divert from the woman’s usual eating habits. Many expectant mothers find themselves craving and consuming sweets and candy more frequently while pregnant, which can lead to cavities.

The other risk factor for cavity development is that the pregnancy hormones cause a decrease of saliva flow, which is important to our oral health as it washes bacteria from our teeth. Without the normal levels of saliva flow, bacteria and acid tends to stay on pregnant women’s teeth longer, leaving them at a greater risk for cavity development. The bacteria that causes cavities can also enter the mother’s bloodstream and be passed onto the baby during pregnancy. To prevent this from happening, it is important to limit snacking and sugar consumption while also maintaining proper oral hygiene.

Advanced Dental Care of Anderson

Good oral hygiene habits are the best way to prevent dental health concerns during pregnancy. This involves brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing between your teeth, and attending your regular dental check-ups. Our staff at Advanced Dental Care of Indiana is passionate about the well-being of all of our patients, including expectant mothers. Pregnancy is stressful enough as it is without having to worry about your teeth. Fortunately, Advanced Dental Care of Indiana is here to help! Visit our website to learn more about our staff, our services, and to schedule an appointment today!