Pregnancy and dental care | Oral health changes during pregnancy

Pregnant moms have a lot to keep up with. Between extra doctor visits and preparing for a new family member, oral health care can fall by the wayside. But oral health during pregnancy should still be a priority.

Pregnancy can impact oral health, so it’s important to go to regularly scheduled appointments to keep the gums and teeth healthy. These preventative appointments are important for not only the health of the mother but also the health of the baby. For example, one of the most common untreated dental diseases is periodontitis (gum disease). Periodontitis is associated with both preterm birth and low birthweight.

Here are 3 of the most common dental health problems during pregnancy:

1. Pregnancy gingivitis

Hormone changes during pregnancy can cause changes in your oral health. If you experience sensitive, bleeding, or swollen gums during pregnancy, you could be experiencing what’s called, “pregnancy gingivitis.”

Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease – or periodontal disease – that causes inflammation of the gums and bones that support your teeth.  If left untreated it can lead to tooth loss. If you’ve had gingivitis before, you’re more likely to get it again while pregnant.

2. Tooth decay

Many women experience cravings during their pregnancy. If the cravings are for carbohydrates or sweets, those snacks can lead to tooth decay faster than healthier options like fruits and veggies.

If you get morning sickness, your mouth is getting exposed to more acid than normal, which can erode teeth enamel. However, it is important that you don’t brush your teeth right away after vomiting. It only scrubs your teeth with the acid. Rinse your mouth with water instead and chew a piece of sugar-free gum for a better taste.

It’s not just mom who may be at higher risk of cavities. Mothers who have a high number of bacteria that cause cavities can unintentionally pass it to their baby during pregnancy and after it is delivered. This can lead to dental problems for the child later in life.

3. Tissue growth in the mouth

Some pregnant women experience new tissue growth, called “pregnancy tumors” in their gums. This may seem scary but is usually not dangerous. These pregnancy tumors tend to occur in the second trimester.

Although they may look scary, the growths are not a form of cancer. It’s a side-effect of swollen gums and can be related to excess plaque. They usually disappear once the baby is born.

Even though your body – including your mouth – goes through changes during pregnancy, the best way to keep up your oral health is the same as every day.  Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly, and visit the dentist.

Be sure to tell your dentist about your pregnancy and talk to them about any concerns or changes in your mouth.

Be sure to check out this document for quick tips about maintaining good oral health during pregnancy.

For more information about oral health and pregnancy refer to this in-depth guide.