Smiling While Expecting: Caring for Your Dental Heath During Pregnancy

pregnancy and gum disease

Dental Health During Pregnancy – Bowmanville, ON

Pregnancy can be both exciting and overwhelming. As your body transforms and you anxiously await your little one’s arrival, taking care of your teeth may be the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately, many pregnant women neglect their oral hygiene or even mistakenly believe that they should skip their routine appointments. This is especially problematic given that, due to the bodily changes associated with pregnancy, expectant mothers are actually at increased risk for a variety of oral health issues. The team of dentists at Bowmanville Dental understands the distinctive challenges pregnant women face, so we can help you maintain a beautiful, healthy smile through all three trimesters. In the following blog, we explain the unique dynamics of dentistry during pregnancy provide our tips for caring for your teeth while you’re expecting.

Why Carrying Makes You Prone to Caries

You are much more likely to develop tooth decay while pregnant for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Nutritional changes. Everyone is familiar with the peculiar cravings expectant mothers face. Unfortunately, the clichéd pickles and ice cream your baby wants can wreak havoc on your enamel. If your diet becomes more sugary, starchy, or acidic, the bacteria in plaque could feed on the debris and wear down your teeth, creating cavities.
  • Morning sickness. Many pregnant women suffer from morning sickness, bouts of nausea, vomiting, and heartburn that typically occur early in the day. In addition to being very unpleasant for a number of reasons, this condition can coat your teeth in harmful acids that break down your enamel.
  • Hormonal fluctuations. Pregnant women naturally produce more female hormones such as estrogen, according to a recent review by U.S. News and World Report Health.
  • Changes in your saliva. Pregnancy can change the volume and chemical composition of your spit. These may seem like minor changes, but they can have a tremendous impact on your oral health. Your saliva acts as a natural defense against caries since it washes away food particles and contains enzymes that kill bacteria, so disruptions to it can allow bacteria to grow and reproduce in your mouth.

Pregnant Periodontal Problems

The same bacteria that can accumulate on your enamel and cause cavities can also infiltrate beneath your gum line and cause periodontal infection. This means that the above factors can also increase your risks for gum disease. In addition, pregnant women are even more susceptible to periodontal issues than decay because their bodies produce more progesterone, a hormone that compromises your ability to fight infection. As a result of these aspects, four in ten pregnant women suffer from gingivitis, a low-grade infection that makes your gums bleed and swell. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to become periodontitis, a more advanced condition in which pockets of infection form around the teeth, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth, and bacterial toxins can break down the surrounding tissue.

In addition to destabilizing your teeth and potentially leading to tooth loss, severe gum disease can interfere with your pregnancy and your growing baby’s health. According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Natural Science and Biological Medicine, periodontitis, “the bacteria that cause [gum] inflammation in the gums can actually get into the bloodstream and target the fetus, potentially leading to premature labor and low-birth-weight (PLBW) babies.” Drs. Rajiv Saini, Santosh Saini, and Sugandha R. Saini concluded that periodontal disease is “an independent risk factor for PLBW” and argue for “[expanding] preventive measures for pregnant women.” Our dentists can care for your gums and spot the symptoms of periodontal infection before it spreads to protect your and your baby’s health.

Our Recommendations

We recommend that pregnant mothers remain especially conscientious about their dental care. This means brushing your teeth at least twice per day for at least two minutes to combat plaque formation and flossing daily to lower your risks for gum disease. In addition, you should be sure to attend regular exams and cleanings at least every six months (although you may choose to come in more frequently during pregnancy to help offset your oral health risks).

Typically, we put off x-rays for patients who are expecting. However, if you have a dental emergency and we determine that these images are necessary to protect your oral health, we can use our digital radiography system to learn more about your mouth while exposing you to much less radiation than traditional x-rays. If you require a filling or periodontal treatment, we will strive to make your procedure as minimally invasive as possible and use only the necessary amount of anesthesia. Our dentists will take your distinct needs, preferences, and concerns into account to provide outstanding treatment throughout your pregnancy.

Maintain a Healthy Smile for You and Your Baby

Our dentists can help you preserve and enhance your oral and general wellbeing during your pregnancy. Contact Bowmanville Dental today to learn more about dental care while you’re expecting or schedule a consultation.