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September 30, 2013

Dental Health During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting and hectic time in a woman’s life. It’s exciting because of all the expectations of having a baby. It’s hectic because of appointments and preparing for the baby’s arrival. Routine trips to the dentist can get lost in the shuffle, and it’s easy for the health of your teeth and gums to go way down on the priority list.

Some women question if it’s OK to go to the dentist when they’re pregnant. For all the reasons discussed below, it is probably more important to go for routine dental checkups during pregnancy than during non-pregnancy.

Healthy Dental Care is Important During Pregnancy
Photo credit Creative Commons: Pam and Phil Gradwell

I am sure that many of us have heard the myth that women will get more cavities during pregnancy
since the baby is brazenly pulling calcium (for its own development) directly from the mother’s teeth. Some women truly believe that they will lose a tooth for every pregnancy.  Having treated many pregnant women during my career and having gone through pregnancy myself, I can assure you that this idea is absolutely false.

The reason women get more cavities and other dental problems during pregnancy has more to do with hormonal shifts. The main effect of these hormonal changes is swollen gums. The other effect is usually morning sickness (nausea and vomiting) which means there is less daily home dental care, as tooth brushing and flossing will exacerbate the nausea.  Morning sickness exposes teeth to excess acid (due to vomiting). Women who suffer from morning sickness have an increased risk of tooth decay and acid erosion of the teeth. 

As the pregnancy progresses, there is also more snacking to feed cravings. So unless the mom-to-be is really on top of her daily oral hygiene, gum disease and cavities are the usual outcome.

Be assured that if you’ve forgotten about your gums and teeth during pregnancy, they are going to remind you, and not in a good way. Not only is a dental visit safe while you’re pregnant, it is highly advised. The health of your gums and teeth should be monitored during this period of time because it can impact your developing child. Gum disease has already been shown to be a marker for premature births and miscarriages.

Bleeding or swollen gums, usually accompanied by pain is never a good thing. If you are planning on becoming pregnant in the near future, it is best to make an appointment with your dentist now, so that all is under control during your pregnancy. Prevention is always the best medicine.
Having healthy dental health is possible during pregnancy. It just takes a little planning and foresight. If your teeth and gums are in excellent shape pre-pregnancy, you should expect the same during pregnancy. Keep up your regular dental visits and call your dentist if you have any unique concerns. Let’s do our best to keep mom and baby as healthy as possible.

If you like this post, you may also like: Healthy Children Have Healthy Teeth


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