Pregnancy is a time of major changes for a woman’s body, including her oral health. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can make gums more susceptible to inflammation and infection, leading to gum disease. Gum disease, if left untreated, can lead to premature labor and low birth weight.
In addition to the hormonal changes, pregnant women are also more likely to experience dry mouth. Dry mouth can make it difficult to brush and floss, which can further increase the risk of gum disease.
To protect their oral health during pregnancy, women should:
- Brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes each time.
- Floss once a day.
- Consult with us regarding regular checkups and cleanings.
- Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash.
- Avoid sugary drinks and snacks.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Here are some of the specific oral health problems that can occur during pregnancy:
- Gum disease: Gum disease is a common infection that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. It is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. During pregnancy, the hormones estrogen and progesterone can make gums more susceptible to inflammation and infection. This can lead to gum disease, which can cause pain, bleeding, and receding gums. Gum disease can also lead to premature labor and low birth weight.
- Dry mouth: Dry mouth is a condition in which the mouth does not produce enough saliva. Saliva helps to keep the teeth clean and free of bacteria. During pregnancy, dry mouth can be caused by hormonal changes, medications, and morning sickness. Dry mouth can make it difficult to brush and floss, which can increase the risk of gum disease.
- Erosion: Erosion is the loss of tooth enamel caused by acids. These acids can come from foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits, sodas, and sports drinks. During pregnancy, women may be more likely to experience erosion due to changes in their diet and the increased production of stomach acid. Erosion can cause pain, sensitivity, and tooth decay.
- Canker sores: Canker sores are small, painful ulcers that can occur inside the mouth. The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but they may be triggered by stress, hormonal changes, or vitamin deficiencies. Canker sores are not contagious and usually go away on their own within a week or two.
By taking good care of their oral health during pregnancy, women can help prevent problems and keep their teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime. If you are pregnant and have any concerns about your oral health, be sure to talk to your dentist at Heathmont Family Dentistry soon after you find out, so we can guide you in the right direction.