Young pregnant woman brushing teeth in bathroom

Your oral health is an integral part of your overall health and well-being. It’s essential to understand how hormonal changes can affect your gums and teeth during pregnancy and how a solid dental care routine can make a significant difference. The good news is that with a bit of knowledge and proactive care, you can maintain your oral health throughout this special time in your life.

The Link Between Pregnancy and Oral Health

As your body goes through major changes during pregnancy, so does your oral health. Pregnancy brings about hormonal changes which may increase your risk of developing gum disease and can affect your and your baby’s health. Changes in eating habits, as well as the effect fatigue, can have on self-care, can also impact your health and the health of your pregnancy.

Gum Changes and Pregnancy Gingivitis

Many women experience changes in their gums during pregnancy. For instance, some pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis—an inflammation of the gums which causes swelling and tenderness. Your gums also might bleed a little when you brush or floss. While this is a common phenomenon during pregnancy, it is also a symptom of gum disease, so bring it up with your dentist.

Pregnancy, Oral Health, and Diabetes

Emerging research suggests that gum disease is correlated with gestational diabetes. Eating a high-sugar, high-starch diet is also a factor. This condition can increase your chances of pregnancy and labor complications, including premature birth, high birth weight, hypertension, and pre-eclampsia.

Morning Sickness and Oral Health

Morning sickness can leave your mouth with strong stomach acids that can erode tooth enamel. If you’re experiencing frequent vomiting, try rinsing your mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water to neutralize the acid. Drink plenty of water, and be sure to brush frequently with a soft-bristled brush.

Common Concerns About Dental Care During Pregnancy

There are several concerns about dental care that women often have during pregnancy. Let’s address some of these common concerns:

Dental Work and X-rays

While routine dental work like cleanings and cavity fillings can be done during pregnancy, more comprehensive procedures should ideally be postponed until after birth to minimize potential risks. In emergency situations, however, treatment should not be delayed. Dental X-rays are generally safe during pregnancy. If it is absolutely necessary to take an x-ray, we will use a lead apron to shield your body to minimize exposure to the abdomen.

Medications and Local Anesthetics

Most common dental medications, including local anesthetics, are safe during pregnancy. In fact, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is used globally for pain relief during labor. Ensure your dentist knows you’re pregnant so they can prescribe the safest options.

Dental Care Tips During Pregnancy

Now that we’ve addressed some common concerns, here are some tips to help you to maintain your oral health during pregnancy.

Maintain Your Dental Hygiene Routine

This might seem basic, but regular brushing and flossing are the most effective way to keep your mouth healthy. Ensure you’re brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing once daily. If you find it hard to floss because your gums bleed easily, try floss alternatives like picks or a water flosser.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Your baby’s first teeth start to develop around the third month of pregnancy. A balanced diet, including dairy products, cheese, and yogurt, can help their development.

Craving sweets is common during pregnancy, but try to keep the sweets to a minimum. Sugary snacks and drinks can increase your risk of tooth decay and diabetes.

Regular Dental Check-ups

We know you have a lot of prenatal appointments. But it is important to also keep up with your regular dental check-ups. Professional teeth cleanings are vital for maintaining your oral health and should not be skipped just because you’re pregnant.

Taking Care of Yourself is Taking Care of Your Baby

Don’t let your dental health take a backseat during pregnancy. Prioritize it, just as you would any other aspect of your prenatal care. After all, smiling is a big part of motherhood. If you have more questions about oral care during pregnancy, talk to us.