The news that you or someone you love is expecting is incredibly exciting! With so much to do to prepare for a new baby, it can be easy to forget things like brushing and flossing daily or going to the dentist. However, taking care of oral health during pregnancy is one of the best things expecting individuals can do for both themselves and their baby. Check out the top four reasons oral health care is essential during pregnancy.
Pregnancy symptoms can cause oral health problems
The human body experiences many changes during pregnancy. These changes are normal but can negatively impact oral health. For example, typical pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness, cravings, and fatigue can all lead to oral health problems:
- Morning sickness: Vomiting can cause acid erosion on the teeth, ultimately eating away at enamel and putting you at risk of tooth sensitivity and decay.
- Cravings: Between 50-90% of pregnant individuals experience pregnancy cravings, with sweet, sugary foods being the most common category consumed. Increased sugar is likely to attack your enamel and cause oral health issues.
- Fatigue: Feelings of tiredness or overall lack of energy are common pregnancy symptoms. Keeping up with a consistent oral health routine at home may feel harder to accomplish during pregnancy.
Due to changing hormones, a shocking 60-75% of pregnant individuals develop pregnancy-related gingivitis. Treating gingivitis in its early, mild state is essential, as it can lead to severe gum disease down the road. According to health experts, signs and symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Red and swollen gums
- General tenderness in the gums
- Bleeding of the gums
- Shiny gums
- Bad breath
Poor oral health and diseases can affect babies
The overall health of the unborn baby is affected by the oral health of its mother. Neglecting oral health during pregnancy can lead to:
- Preterm labor: Excess bacteria and oral infections such as gum disease can lead to preterm birth or low birth weight for babies. Babies born before term can have serious medical issues both after birth and in the long term.
- Oral health problems for babies: Bacteria that cause cavities can spread from pregnant individuals to their babies before or after birth. It’s recommended to have oral health problems such as cavities treated during pregnancy as children whose parents have multiple untreated cavities are three times more likely to have cavities as a child.
Going to the dentist is recommended during pregnancy
Individuals should maintain their oral health during pregnancy by continuing a proper home-care routine. Keep up with good habits such as brushing twice and flossing daily (especially after morning sickness) and avoiding an abundance of sugary foods that could cause cavities.
There is a myth that it’s unsafe to visit your dentist during pregnancy; however, doctors and dentists recommend that pregnant individuals go to the dentist. Seeing your dentist helps your overall health by preventing tooth decay and watching for gingivitis. Treatments that require anesthesia, such as fillings, root canals, or teeth pulling, are also safe.
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, talk to your dentist about any concerns or changes in your mouth. For any other questions about pregnancy and oral health, check out our blog!