It can be easy to brush off your routine check-up at the dentist when you’re busy monitoring your growing belly during pregnancy. After all, how much could the state of your pearly whites have to do with your pregnant body? It turns out, plenty. With pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone in flux, moms-to-be are more at risk for gingivitis, gum disease and even pregnancy tumors. It all sounds scary, doesn’t it? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Here, we’ll tell you why you may want to schedule a dental visit during your pregnancy.
Never skip a teeth cleaning
You’ve nixed alcohol and you load up your grocery cart with fresh fruits and veggies. You’re dutifully taking a prenatal vitamin and maybe you’re exercising lightly too. In all your efforts to prime your body for baby, don’t neglect your oral health. A study in The Journal of the American Dental Association reported that moms-to-be with chronic gum disease were four to seven times more likely to go into preterm labor and deliver underweight babies.
What to watch out for
Be on the lookout for sore, red gums that bleed when you brush, any swollen areas and bumps around your gum line. Expecting moms with preexisting dental issues may find that pregnancy exacerbates these problems. While not serious in itself, gingivitis, if left untreated can lead to gum disease. Gum disease can bring with it a host of problems if ignored, the most troubling among them being tooth loss. While a tumor may sound scary, we assure you a small bump that pops up along your gum line is most likely a harmless growth brought on by your pregnancy hormones. These pregnancy tumors occur in only 1 to 5 percent of women and disappear after delivery just as mysteriously as they appeared. Pregnancy tumors are not cancerous and not contagious. If you have a growth you’re concerned about, make an appointment with your dentist to put your mind at ease.
Your game plan
Good oral hygiene is a must. The American Academy of Family Physicians advises pregnant women to brush twice each day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, floss and rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash. Keep your six-month checkups with your dentist – they’re more important now than ever. With your immunity down and hormones fluctuating, your teeth are more susceptible to plaque build-up and inflammation. Struggling with morning sickness? Skip brushing immediately after vomiting, and instead rinse with water and baking soda to protect your enamel.
Is it safe?
In a 2008 study, the American Dental Association reported that dental treatment is perfectly safe for women during pregnancy. While you should never delay emergency dental work, the optimal time to receive treatment is during the second trimester – after baby’s organs have developed, but before you experience the discomforts of the third trimester. Always share your pregnancy news with your dentist, as he or she will tweak your treatment to ensure baby’s safety. The AAFP recommends pregnant women decline X-rays, despite lead aprons, thyroid guards and fast film’s ability to limit risk.
Will you be adding a trip to the dentist to your second trimester to-do list? Share with us in the comments below.