The increased hormones that come with pregnancy can affect all aspects of your body, including your teeth and gums. These hormones can affect your body’s response to plaque, increasing the risk of gum disease.
How dental disease affects a developing baby
While this may be a minor inconvenience for the mother, there are other risks involved. Research has found a link between periodontal disease in pregnant women and premature birth with low birth weight. One study even suggests that actively seeking dental health care during pregnancy can reduce the risk of premature birth by more than 80%!
What you can do
The first line of defense against gum disease is good oral hygiene habits. Brush your teeth twice daily, floss every day, and visit your dentist regularly (at least once during your pregnancy). If you are planning to become pregnant, see your dentist first to determine your risks and plan your oral care during pregnancy.
In addition, when you visit your dentist during pregnancy, it’s important to tell your dentist you are pregnant. This may change certain aspects of your treatment (for example, your dentist may avoid dental x-rays during pregnancy).
The most common dental problem during pregnancy is gum disease. Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontal disease (a chronic gum infection). These occur as a result of pregnancy hormones worsening your response to plaque. If your gums become swollen, tender, or start to bleed, tell your dentist. You should also switch to a softer toothbrush and be extra diligent about brushing twice a day. Be sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
Most gum problems will resolve themselves after you give birth. But if you do experience gum disease during pregnancy, be sure to check in with your dentist as early as is convenient after you’ve given birth, so he or she can be sure the problems are not continuing.
Overall, your teeth may seem like the least of your worries during pregnancy. But it’s important to care for the whole body as it’s working to grow a new life. Take care of your teeth, and your baby will benefit. And we can’t wait to meet your little one when he or she is ready for that first dental visit!