How Does Pregnancy affect Oral Health?
Many women often have dreams of starting a family and living happily ever after. This is a perfectly normal goal to have but we often don’t realize how much work it can be until the baby comes. Many women also don’t know the effects that a baby can have on their bodies. When doing research about the effects of pregnancy on the body, you will probably find topics relating to energy levels, hormonal changes, physical changes, hunger, cravings, etc. However, what you do not come across often is one of the most important topics: how pregnancy can affect oral health. Oral health is already a slippery slope. Neglect your teeth and gums, and they can quickly descend into decay and disease. Pregnancy just adds another risk to the health of your mouth.
So what are some effects of pregnancy on oral health?
Gum disease and tooth decay:
Pregnancy can lead to gum disease and increased risk of tooth decay because of hormonal changes. Increased hormones can affect the way the body responds to plaque. This can lead to loss of gum tissue and lack of support for teeth.
Pregnancy doesn’t always affect your oral health immediately. The old wives’ tales that warns a woman to expect a lost tooth for every baby is completely false. However, inadequate calcium intake can lead to various dental problems.
With hormones constantly changing, your gums can be affected. They may become more sensitive and might bleed easily.
Anywhere between the third and ninth month of pregnancy, a woman may experience “pregnancy gingivitis”. Pregnancy gingivitis is the swelling or irritation of gums as a result of bacteria along the gum line. Gums are sensitive because estrogen and progesterone hormones have increased.
Effects of morning sickness:
If you are vomiting from morning sickness, the risk of tooth decay is increased. Stomach acid left on your teeth can damage them and can even lead to tooth loss.
So how can you reduce the risk of oral health problems?
Gum disease and tooth decay: In order to prevent against gum disease and tooth decay, regular brushing and flossing is imperative. Rinsing with an anti-bacterial mouthwash is also a good habit.
Calcium depletion: Fighting against calcium depletion is easy and obvious, just increase your intake of calcium!
Bleeding gums: To reduce the risk of bleeding gums, brush and floss regularly but gentleness and care is key.
Gingivitis: To reduce the risk of pregnancy gingivitis, make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Gently clean your teeth near the gum line and don’t forget to floss! Visit your oral health care provider for checkups during pregnancy because gingivitis has the potential to turn into gum disease.
Morning sickness effects: To protect against the harmful effects of morning sickness on your teeth, rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash. After rinsing your mouth, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
Most importantly, see your nearest oral health care provider. Your dentist or periodontist is your best ally in keeping your mouth healthy and strong throughout pregnancy!