If you are pregnant, you have more medical appointments and body changes than you have ever experienced before, but it's important that in the whirlwind of preparing for baby that you still make your dental health a priority.
Pregnancy can affect your oral health in a number of ways, and some of them might surprise you. This guide can help you know the hazards to your teeth and what care you should give them when you're expecting.
There are some increased risks to your teeth that can come as a result of pregnancy. You might be more likely to develop decay, tooth weakness, or gum irritation during pregnancy because of the following.
- Calcium loss. Growing a baby requires increased calcium. You normally would get this extra boost from taking a prenatal vitamin, but if you do not have increased calcium in your diet, your body will borrow it from your teeth and bones, causing temporary weakness.
- Morning sickness. Unfortunately, many women struggle with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Frequent vomiting drastically affects the pH in the mouth, and the increased acidity can accelerate tooth decay, especially if this was already beginning to develop
- Diet changes. Many women survive on saltine crackers and other simple forms of sugar and carbohydrates when dealing with nausea or stomach upset. These foods also contribute to higher rates of tooth decay.
- Changes in hygiene habits. When your gag reflex is more sensitive, you may not brush your teeth as often or as thoroughly.
- Gum soreness. Increased blood volume and hormonal changes can makes your gums more sensitive during pregnancy. Flossing may be uncomfortable, so some women may choose to skip it.
Hormone changes may also cause differences in your enamel and affect how plaque forms on your teeth.
To help prevent decay, pregnant women should make sure to:
- Stay hydrated. Swishing water through the mouth frequently during the day helps to keep acidity at bay, and it helps to clear cracker or juice residue from your teeth.
- Wait to brush after vomiting. The first thing you might want to do after you've thrown up is to brush your teeth. However, it's best to swish with water and a little baking soda and brush after you've reduced the impact of the stomach acid on your teeth. This can soften your enamel, whereas immediate brushing can increase the damage.
- Stick with dedicated dental care routines. When you are sick and exhausted, sticking to brushing and flossing can be hard. If you hate to floss now because of gum pain, you might ask your dentist for a sample of gentle floss or for an alternative flossing method.
These prevention tips may seem very basic, but they can provide a level of protection for your teeth in this more vulnerable time.
Cleanings and Dental Work
Finally, pregnant women should still visit their dentist during pregnancy to get scheduled cleanings. Many dentists can also still safely give x-rays to pregnant patients, but you should let your dentist know that you are pregnant because they may want to provide additional coverage for your during an oral x-ray for increased protection.
Cleanings help to reduce gum sensitivity, and they can help reduce the risk of decay.
If you do end up needing a filling, the best time to get dental work done is during the second trimester. This way, you're often past the usual morning sickness, but it's not uncomfortable to lie down in the chair for a longer procedure. Before getting dental work done, speak with your OBGYN about safe medications and dental anesthesia options for pregnancy.
For more information on getting the right care for your needs, contact us at Galloway Dental Care.