dental health during pregnancy

Pregnancy can be an exciting time and while you have so much to plan for, your oral health may be one of the last things you’re thinking about. But it’s more important than ever to pay close attention to your dental health in this time.

That’s because hormone changes during pregnancy can affect your oral health and many pregnant women notice that their gums are red, inflamed and sometimes bleed when they brush their teeth. The swelling and inflamed gums are referred to as ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ and can start as soon as the second month of pregnancy. The hormone progesterone can be around 10 times higher than normal during pregnancy, affecting the body’s response to toxins as a result of plaque build-up. Women are therefore more susceptible to developing periodontal disease when these hormonal fluctuations occur.

Some women also experience a growth on their gums known as a pregnancy granuloma which are red nodules, usually found on the upper gums. While they are not dangerous, they can cause discomfort. Other oral health problems may include tooth erosion as a result of constant exposure to acid from severe morning sickness. Dry mouth is another major complaint, but can be easily remedied by drinking plenty of water and using sugarless candies to stimulate saliva flow.

If you are pregnant we recommend that you come to the practice for a thorough check up so we can help you to have a healthy and happy pregnancy.

Six things you need to know…

To keep your body and mouth healthy during pregnancy here are the Oral Health Foundation’s six things you need to know about your oral health:

1

Bleeding gums & gum disease

Changing hormonal levels during pregnancy mean that your body will react differently to bacteria on your teeth (plaque). This can lead to swollen and bleeding gums and even to the more serious forms of gum disease such as periodontitis and pregnancy gingivitis. There have been proven links between gum disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes; with a greater risk of pre-eclampsia, premature birth and of giving birth to an underweight child. It is therefore vital that pregnant women do not ignore any early signs of gum disease and get checked out by a dental professional straight away.

2

Treating gum disease

If you do have signs of gum disease, either periodontitis or gingivitis, you should know that it can be treated perfectly safely during pregnancy. This treatment involves a dental health professional performing a deep clean under the gums to remove any bacteria, the only risks associated with this is slight soreness of the gums which you would face even if you were not pregnant.

3

Prevention

As with anybody’s oral health, prevention is always much better than a cure when it comes to looking after your mouth, this is certainly the case when you are pregnant. A good oral health routine should involve brushing last thing at night and at least one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste, daily interdental cleaning and regular visits to the dentist, these are free under the NHS if you are pregnant.

4

Diet

One of the easiest changes you can make to look after your oral health, and overall health, is your diet. Cutting down on how often and how much sugar you consumer can dramatically reduce your risk of tooth decay and is also beneficial to many other areas of your health. Switching to fresh fruit and vegetables is a great way to look after your oral health and also look after you and your baby.

5

X-rays and anaesthesia

Always tell your dentist if you are pregnant, especially if there is a chance that you will need an x-ray. Your dentist will usually wait until you’ve had the baby. X-rays during pregnancy do not carry risks to your unborn baby, such as miscarriage or birth defects but repeated exposure to radiation can potentially damage the body’s cells in the long run, increasing risk of developing cancer. X-rays are very low doses of radiation and during pregnancy carry a minimal risk of exposing the unborn baby to radiation.

6

Painkillers and antibiotics

It is generally safe for you to use common painkillers such as paracetamol and antibiotics when you are pregnant. You should always speak to your doctor before taking any new medication while pregnant to make sure it is safe to use.