Due to changing hormones during pregnancy, dental care should be a priority

Smiling pregnant woman lying on couchPregnancy is a time of many changes to your body. Some are exciting and amazing, while others are not as much fun. Did you know that because your hormone levels increase, your gums and teeth may change during pregnancy? You’re more likely to have some dental health problems that you did not have before you became pregnant.

Changes in hormone levels can affect your body’s response to dental plaque bacteria, causing swelling, sensitivity and tenderness in your gums. Most pregnant women have some bleeding of their gums, especially while brushing or flossing. Your gums are more likely to become inflamed or infected. Gum inflammation is called “gingivitis;” it’s an early form of periodontal disease, which can ultimately result in tooth loss or other oral health problems.  Other dental issues that may occur include loose teeth, tooth decay or loss, and lumps or non-cancerous tumors which form on gums in-between teeth. Also, you may notice that your mouth produces more saliva.

Here’s what can do if you are pregnant:

Step up your oral care routine; fight plaque at home every day.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush thoroughly twice a day. If you have a lot of sensitivity, try using toothpaste designed for sensitive gums. If your gums hurt after brushing, apply ice to soothe the pain.

Make sure the toothpaste and mouthwash you use fight gingivitis. Read product labels as many toothpastes and mouthwashes do not contain gingivitis fighting ingredients. A toothpaste containing stannous fluoride is a great choice as it not only fights cavities and sensitivity, but also helps reduce gingivitis. Floss once a day to clean in between your teeth. If you’re vomiting (so sorry), be sure to rinse your mouth with water or clean your teeth afterward to get rid of extra stomach acids in your mouth.

Cut down on sweets

Candy, cookies, cake, soft drinks and other sweets can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. Instead, have fresh fruit or make other healthy choices to satisfy your sweet tooth. Watch out for some dried fruits, like raisins and figs, that can stick in the crevasses of your teeth. They’re delicious but contain lots of natural sugar, so remember to brush!

Get regular dental care

If left unchecked, some conditions, like gingivitis, may lead to more serious gum disease. Be sure to have a dental checkup early in pregnancy to help your mouth remain healthy. You may even want to see your dentist more often than usual. Although it’s best to have your teeth cleaned and checked for any trouble spots before pregnancy, being pregnant is no reason to avoid your dentist.

Don’t put off dental work until after delivery

Decaying teeth can cause infection that could harm your baby. If you think you need a dental filling, don’t panic. Go get it checked out. Always be sure to tell your dentist that you’re pregnant and how far along you are in your pregnancy.

Bottom line

A good daily oral care routine, keeping up with seeing your dentist, and regular visits to your prenatal care provider are all essential parts of a healthy pregnancy.

Looking for more information? Learn how pregnancy affects your dental health and check out if you are at risk for gum disease.

Have questions? Text or email them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

March of Dimes does not endorse specific brands or products.

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