Interview with Janine Bowling, RDH
Oral health is important for everyone. Pregnancy oral health is no exception. In fact, pregnant women are at further risk for some oral diseases and infections because of their changing hormone levels. Knowing what potential problems to look for and what to do about them are vital during pregnancy.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Your Dentist While Pregnant?
Unless it’s an emergency, dentists won’t see pregnant women for routine appointments and cleanings during their first trimester. There is the potential for miscarriage during this time. Dental cleanings stir up bacteria in teeth, which could become harmful. The third trimester poses comfort issues when the mother is lying down.
Therefore, the second trimester is the best time to visit a dentist. If you’re due for an x-ray or need oral numbing, consult your OBGYN first to get a release.
What Are Potential Pregnancy Oral Health Problems?
Pregnant women are subject to the same dental issues as others. But pregnancy increases the potential of certain issues developing. Hormonal increases make pregnant women more susceptible to developing plaque that can attack their gums.
The gums may become swollen or tender. They may bleed easier or recede.
Tooth decay is another common issue for pregnant women. Morning sickness prevents many women from wanting to floss or brush, which can result in tooth decay.
Pregnant women can also develop pyogenic tumors on their gums. While harmless, these cauliflower-like tumors can cause alarm. They aren’t dangerous or painful. Once the pregnancy is over they will disappear.
Pregnancy can induce gingivitis or gum disease because progesterone hormone levels are higher. Pregnancy-induced gingivitis commonly develops between two to eight months of pregnancy. However, it is reversible by consistently maintaining better oral hygiene and rinsing with sea salt and warm water. If periodontal disease is left unchecked, an infection that affects the health of the mother and child could develop. Gum bacteria travels to the bloodstream and raises levels of prostaglandin, a labor-inducing hormone, which can cause the mother to give birth prematurely.
How Can You Prevent Oral Complications?
Practicing good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent oral complications while pregnant. Flossing is essential to remove bacteria. If you experience vomiting from morning sickness, you may be tempted to brush right after. It’s better to rinse your mouth with baking soda and water and brush your teeth 20 minutes after that. Brushing immediately after throwing up will rub the hydrochloric acid into the teeth, causing enamel erosion. Using an antiseptic rinse will also help kill germs. Lastly, eating a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables will help promote healthy gum tissue.
If you are experiencing issues, consult us or your doctor to plan appropriate treatment.