Congratulations! Pregnancy is an exciting and busy time in your life. It’s also a very important time to make sure all aspects of your health are cared for, and your oral health should definitely not be overlooked! In fact, your oral health is particularly important because it not only affects you, but could also potentially affect the health of your developing baby. We are often asked by our patients whether it is safe to go to the dentist when they are pregnant and how pregnancy affects their oral health. Read below for the answers to these questions and more tips on how to keep your smile healthy during your pregnancy.
How Does Pregnancy Affect My Oral Health?
Hormonal changes can affect the health of your gums, causing inflammation and sensitivity known as "pregnancy gingivitis". In fact, according to the American Dental Association Council on Access, Prevention, and Interprofessional Relations, 2006, approximately 60 to 75% of pregnant women have gingivitis. Gingivitis is an early stage of periodontal disease, with symptoms such as red and swollen gums that may have been aggravated by changing hormones during pregnancy. Research has shown that there may be a link between poor dental health/periodontal disease and the health of a developing baby, including low birth weight and pre-term birth. There is also evidence that poor oral health/periodontal disease may put some babies at greater risk of developmental problems, and also at a greater risk of asthma, ear infections and even infant death (BC Healthlink).
If you are experiencing morning sickness, be aware that vomiting can leave stomach acids in your mouth, thereby increasing the overall acidity of your mouth, which can weaken tooth enamel and make you more susceptible to tooth decay. If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting, do not brush your teeth for 30 minutes as the combination of stomach acid and brushing can lead to enamel damage. Instead, you can immediately rinse your mouth with water or a fluoridated mouthwash to freshen your breath and protect your teeth.
During your pregnancy, you may also notice that you are experiencing bleeding gums more frequently. Because of your changing hormones, your gums may be more sensitive and they might bleed easily, even if you maintain good oral hygiene.
How can I keep my teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, maintaining your oral hygiene routine is more important than ever. If you are already brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, keep it up! You should also continue to see your dentist regularly and have regular cleanings and check-ups. According to the Government of Canada website, the best time to have dental work done (such as fillings) is during the second trimester of your pregnancy (between the 4th and 6th month).
Although local anaesthetic and x-rays (with the use of a lead apron) are considered to be safe for you and your baby, always inform your dentist that you are pregnant and discuss with your dentist the risks and benefits of proceeding with both x-rays and dental treatment while you are pregnant (BC Healthlink), versus waiting until after you have delivered your baby.
If you have any questions about your pregnancy and oral health, or if you wish to make an appointment with our Calgary dentist or dental hygienist, call us today at 403.283.4252 to schedule your appointment and keep your smile healthy & happy during your pregnancy!