Being pregnant comes with a whole new set of rules for eating, drinking, and moving. No one would think twice about standing near a microwave or eating tuna… until they get pregnant.
On top of rules that a doctor may tell you, there are tons of old wives’ tales out there, plus all of the unsolicited advice that you are bound to receive from other moms. Because of all the confusing misinformation bouncing around, we’re here to set the record straight about pregnancy and dental care.
How Exactly Does Pregnancy Affect Dental Care?
Bleeding Gums. For some women, the first sign of pregnancy is bleeding gums. Changing hormones due to pregnancy can cause inflammation, swelling, and tenderness in the gums. You may experience bleeding gums while you brush or floss, or symptoms may arise seemingly out of the blue.
“Pregnancy Tumors.” Before you panic, know that this sounds a lot worse than it really is. Basically, some women may experience abnormal swelling that appears to be a tumor.
However, this swelling is not cancerous, and is typically temporary. The swelling (which is sometimes accompanied by bleeding) will go down once you are no longer pregnant.
Tooth Decay. Morning sickness is not fun for a number of reasons, but one of the less obvious results of having to frequently vomit is increased risk for cavities and tooth decay.
If you think about it, it’s actually pretty obvious. When you vomit, you expose your teeth to more acid than they are usually exposed to. If you’re vomiting frequently, your teeth have to deal with this acid a lot more.
How to Care for Your Teeth While You’re Pregnant
So how do you combat these extra oral care issues and give your teeth the best chance at staying healthy during pregnancy?
- Brush your teeth after meals and after a bout of morning sickness.
- Continue to floss, even if you are experiencing bleeding gums. A softer toothbrush may be needed to curb bleeding while you take care of your teeth.
- Use your trimesters to mark when you should be replacing your toothbrush. It is common for people to forget how long they have been using the same brush, but make it a goal to get a new toothbrush when you enter a new trimester.
- Make a dental appointment during the second trimester of your pregnancy. Once you’ve reached the third trimester, you may have trouble lying on your back, no matter how comfortable your dentist’s chair is.
- Take a pillow and uncross your legs to keep yourself comfortable during an appointment.
Don’t Listen to Old Wives’ Tales – Visit the Dentist
There are so many trips to the doctor that are required during pregnancy that it can be incredibly tempting to put off dental appointments. After all, the symptoms you’re experiencing only came after you found out you were pregnant. You should be fine waiting a few months until you’ve delivered, right?
Not so much. While symptoms of gingivitis or tooth decay may appear only after pregnancy, their effects will last a lot longer if they are not treated.
Tell your dentist as soon as you know (or think) you are pregnant. Pregnancy, as well as any medications you are taking during pregnancy, may explain some of the symptoms you are experiencing and things that your dentist may find unusual. Dentists may also be able to recommend ways to treat symptoms, and even remove others (i.e. pregnancy tumor).
Worried about x-rays harming your fetus? Don’t be. X-rays can be used safely during pregnancy.
Still not sure? Talk to a South Florida dentist today for more information about maintaining optimal dental hygiene while pregnant.