For most women, becoming pregnant means becoming hyper-aware of your health. Every little ache and pain can trigger anxiety, leading you to call your OB/GYN to make sure everything is normal. You commit to switching up your diet, eliminating the worst of things like caffeine and alcohol. You may incorporate more walks and meditation – all for the good of the baby. Sadly, one thing pregnant women are most likely to ignore is their dental health.
Whether pregnant women assume that dental changes are normal during their pregnancy or they fear any dental treatment may be harmful to the baby, a recent study suggested that nearly half of all American pregnant women skip the dentist.
Not only is seeing a dentist regularly important for the health of your teeth, but during pregnancy, regular visits to the dentist may help diagnose pregnancy-related problems and improve the overall health and wellness of you and the baby.
Pregnancy and Your Teeth
Skipping Dental Routines
Pregnancy does a lot to a woman’s body, and that includes her teeth and gums. When pregnant, a woman’s blood volume increases by over 50% to help support the uterus. More blood flow can cause gums to swell become inflamed. When this happens, pregnant women may experience more tenderness and even bleeding gums when brushing their teeth. While this is completely normal, it can cause women to skip brushing their teeth and flossing because of the discomfort. The more frequent a pregnant woman skips her dental routines, the more likely she is to experience tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss.
An Increase of Hormones
Between 60% and 75% of pregnant women have gingivitis, a serious gum disease, that is caused by the swelling and inflammation of the gums. This disease can worsen over time and lead to other oral issues – such as periodontitis, bacteremia, and oral cancers. Not only does the increase in blood volume cause the gums to swell, but the increase in hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen, are the main culprits.
Ignoring the dentist during pregnancy can mean ignoring bacteremia (a condition that puts bacteria into your bloodstream) and can actually lead to pre-term birth.
Don’t Stop Dental Care
Unless you are specifically directed by your Obstetrician to avoid the dentist (which would be an incredibly rare recommendation), pregnant women should continue to see their dentists during their regularly scheduled cleanings, exams, and x-rays. If you notice during your pregnancy that you do have an increase in swelling, tenderness, and bleeding of the gums – it is wise to schedule an appointment to make sure you are not suffering from gingivitis or something more serious.
In general, most dental procedures are safe during any stage of pregnancy. While you should hold off on any elective, cosmetic treatments (such as whitening), other urgent needs, and routine dental work, like fillings, root canals, and extractions, can absolutely be done safely!
If you are pregnant and still have concerns about seeing your dentist, please do not hesitate to contact us at Lowry Main Street Dental. We love educating our patients and caring for them during every stage of life.