Pregnancy and Oral Health

How does pregnancy affect my oral health?
It’s a myth that calcium is lost from the mother’s teeth and “one tooth is lost with every pregnancy.” However you may experience some changes in your oral health during pregnancy. The primary change is a surge in hormones- particularly an increase in estrogen and progesterone. These causes the gums to react differently to the bacteria found in plaque and in many cases can cause a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis.

How does a build-up of plaque affect my Teeth and Gums?
If the plaque isn’t removed, it can cause gingivitis – red, swollen, tender gums that are more likely to bleed. So called “pregnancy gingivitis” affects most pregnant women to some degree, and generally begins to surface in the second trimester. If you already have gingivitis, the condition is likely to worsen during pregnancy. If untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, an infection that can lead to a much more serious problem including stroke and heart problems and pre-term labor.

Pregnant women are also at risk for developing pregnancy tumors, inflammatory, benign growths that develop when swollen gums become irritated.

How can I prevent these problems?

You can prevent gingivitis by keeping your teeth clean, especially near the gum line. You should brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and after each meal when possible. You should also floss thoroughly each day. If tooth brushing causes morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water or with anti-plaque and fluoride mouthwashes. Good nutrition including a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of B vitamin and folic acid helps keep the oral cavity healthy and strong. We recommend more frequent cleanings, at least every 3-4 months to help control plaque and prevent gingivitis.

When should I see my dentist?
If you’re planning to become pregnant or suspect you’re pregnant, you should see a dentist right away. Otherwise, you should schedule a check-up in your first trimester for a cleaning. More frequent cleanings may be indicated in order to control the pregnancy gingivitis.

Could Gingivitis affect my baby’s health?

New research suggests a link between pre-term and low birth weight babies and gingivitis. Excessive bacteria, which cause gingivitis, can enter the bloodstream through your mouth (gums). If this happens the bacteria can travel to the uterus, triggering the production of prostaglandins, which are suspected to induce premature labor.

Are there any procedures I should avoid?

Non-emergency procedures generally can be preformed throughout pregnancy, but the best time for any dental treatment is the fourth through six month. Women with dental emergencies that create severe pain can be treated during any trimester, but your obstetrician should be consulted during emergencies that require anesthesia or when medication is being prescribed. Only X-rays that are needed for emergencies should be taken during pregnancy. Lastly, elective procedures that can be postponed should be delayed until after the baby’s birth.

If you have any questions on dental care during pregnancy, please contact Dr. Sayeg.