Did you know that the hormones you experience during pregnancy can mess with your oral health? The farther a woman gets in her pregnancy, the more she may notice changes in her teeth and gums. Some women have gums that start to bleed frequently, while others will get small gum growths. These are just a few changes caused by hormones that can go on in your mouth. Pregnancy is a time when you should be extra vigilant with oral hygiene practices, especially if you have morning sickness. Find out changes to look for during pregnancy, why dental visits are important and how to take care of your mouth properly during this time!
Hormonal Changes In Pregnancy
If you’ve ever been pregnant before, or you are currently pregnant, then you know how many changes happen with your body. Hormones, especially, are changing how your body feels and works. Pregnancy brings a surge of several hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. These hormones help in the growth and development of a fetus and also improve your vascularization. This means that you have more blood vessels forming during pregnancy and more blood flowing to different parts of your body.
Not only will you have hormonal changes during pregnancy, but you also have to be vigilant with your pregnancy oral health to avoid problems. Your mouth is connected to your body in more ways than many people understand. If you don’t take care of your teeth and gums, infections, decay and chronic problems can affect other parts of your mouth. There have been many studies done that link some pregnancy problems with poor pregnancy oral health. The American Dental Association reports that poor dental hygiene leads to problems such as “premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia”. Keeping up on proper brushing, flossing, and dental visits can help you avoid these problems.
Changes In Your Mouth
We mentioned how you have new blood vessels forming in your body. That happens not only in a growing fetus, but in areas such as your mouth. The added blood vessels combined with hormones can also cause growths in your mouths that are sometimes referred to as “nodules”. When you are flossing, look for small growths along your gum line, especially in between your teeth.
With the formation of new blood vessels—and many more of them than you had before—you might experience areas that receive too much blood in your mouth. A small nodule or bump will form because of this. This nodules are generally painless, but they can grow to be quite large. Floss around them and call our office to have them removed if they are interfering with your pregnancy oral health routine.
Pregnant women often get pregnancy gingivitis, which is a mild form of gum disease that happens because of pregnancy hormones. Buildup of dental plaque along the gum line can cause the gums to swell, turn red and bleed easier. If your gums bleed more than usual when you brush and floss, make sure you are brushing and flossing a bit more throughout the day to keep your teeth extra clean.
What Can You Do?
The ADA recommends that every person—child, teen and adult alike—brush their teeth at least twice a day. Everyone should also be flossing 1-2 times a day as well. However, you should up your game with pregnancy oral health. Try brushing your teeth after every meal, or even 3 times a day. You should especially brush if you are craving and eating lots of foods and drinks with sugar in them. This is because the more sugar you eat, the more likely you are to make plaque, which can form tooth decay.
If you have morning sickness often, make sure you brush your teeth 20-30 minutes afterwards. Do the same if you drink or eat products with acids in them such as sodas and citrus fruits and drinks. You want to do this because acids will erode your tooth enamel. Stomach acid is especially harsh on the teeth, but you want to wait to brush so that the new acid on the teeth doesn’t take off a small layer of tooth enamel. Adding fluoride products to your pregnancy oral health routine can help protect your teeth from the effects of acids. Most importantly you should also be seeing the dentist often, and maybe even more often than you did before.
Seeing the Dentist While Pregnant
Some say that you shouldn’t see a dentist while you are pregnant. Does it make sense to not see a medical professional during a time when you need extra medical attention? It doesn’t. You should definitely continue seeing the dentist for your biannual exams and dental cleanings. If you have tooth decay or another dental problem, you can even have them fixed if they don’t require too much anesthetics. For severe dental problems, it is often best to wait until after pregnancy has ended. This is for procedures that require higher amounts of anesthetic medications or ones where you have to be completely under.
Talk to us if you are pregnant, as we like to avoid using dental x-rays during your pregnancy. X-ray imaging likely won’t harm a growing baby, but we avoid its use as a precaution. We can examine your mouth every 3-4 months during your pregnancy to ensure dental issues aren’t developing. If you have nodules and growths in your mouth, we can remove them or advise you on proper care to help them go away. With all your pregnancy oral health needs, call Niles Family Dentistry at (720) 744-001!