Oral Health and Pregnancy
Don’t let old wives’ tales keep you out of the dentist’s chair while you are pregnant. Systems, treatments and awareness have all changed and developed since most of those old wives had teeth, let alone were pregnant. Far from avoiding visiting your local dentist in downtown Vancouver, BC, oral care should play a big role in your pregnancy care.
The mouth, with its teeth and gums, is the body’s gateway and can impact on your general health (and baby’s). Its condition, and any changes in it, should be professionally monitored, and treated where necessary.
Common mouth issues during pregnancy:
- Pregnancy gingivitis: Like all gingivitis, the gums become inflamed and red and can tend to bleed if you brush your teeth too hard. Gingivitis is very common in pregnancy, so almost all women might experience it at some stage during their pregnancy. It will usually disappear within six months after childbirth provided you follow a good oral hygiene routine.
- Pregnancy tumours are not as common, affecting only about one in 10 women. They are benign and usually painless, and appear as red or purple growths which disappear after childbirth. These tumours can become an issue if they do actually become painful or start bleeding, in which case they may need to be removed surgically.
- Gingival enlargement is the least common of the issues faced by pregnant women. The gums grow bigger, overlapping the teeth and sometimes ending up covering the teeth entirely.
Good oral hygiene, always important for your oral and general health, is vital when you are pregnant. Both pregnancy gingivitis and gingival enlargement are thought to be linked to a pregnant women’s hormone changes and an increased response to mouth bacteria. Morning sickness might cause you to want to skip some of that routine, but try not to. If the taste of your toothpaste makes you gag, swap to a different one, and be sure to rinse your mouth out with water after vomiting.
Eat sensibly while pregnant, avoiding sugary foods which can cause tooth decay, even if you crave them. If you should lapse, remember to rinse your mouth immediately, or brush your teeth. Follow a healthy, balanced diet, and include things in it which will help your baby’s teeth, gums and bones develop well, too.
Issues affecting the mouth and teeth seem to get worse during pregnancy – be sure to see your dentist if you are at all concerned about what’s happening. Your dentist will only recommend treatments that are absolutely necessary and will not want to put you, your pregnancy or your baby at risk.
If it’s not an emergency…
- Avoid any dental X-rays during pregnancy. However, should you be forced to have them in a dental emergency situation, rest assured your dentist will make it as safe as possibly for both you and your baby.
- Avoid dental treatment during the first three months of your pregnancy and the last six weeks. These periods are very important in terms of your baby’s growth and development, so don’t take chances unless you have to.
- Leave any non-essential cosmetic work for after your baby is born.