Pregnant? 9 Questions You May Have About Your Dental Health
Do I Need to Change My Daily Habits?
If you’re already brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth once a day, keep up the good work! If not, there’s no better time to start, as poor habits during pregnancy have been associated with premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Talk to your dentist about your routine and if you should make any changes. Shopping for you and your growing family? Look for dental products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Why Are My Gums Bleeding?
With pregnancy come changes in your body, emotions and mouth. As many as half of all women develop pregnancy gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that is most common between the second and eighth months of pregnancy. It usually goes away after childbirth. Hormones make your gums more easily irritated by plaque and can cause gums to be red, tender, sore and bleed. Brush twice a day for two minutes, clean between your teeth once a day, and talk to your dentist about other steps you can take to keep your gums healthy.
Do You Lose a Tooth with Each Baby?
No, this is an old wives’ tale. Losing a tooth is not a normal part of pregnancy, and if you do, you most likely already had an existing dental problem. You may, however, feel like your teeth are a bit loose. According to the Mayo Clinic, progesterone and estrogen can loosen the ligaments and bones that keep your teeth in place, even if you don’t have gum disease. Many times this goes away after pregnancy, but talk to your dentist if you feel like your teeth are moving when they shouldn’t.
I'm Struggling with Morning Sickness. What Should I Do?
Unfortunately, morning sickness can hit any time of the day. Vomit contains stomach acids that can eat away at your teeth, so waiting to brush after you’ve rinsed your mouth can help prevent those acids from doing damage. Instead of brushing, first swish and spit. You can use water, a diluted mouth rinse or a mixture of 1 cup of water and 1 tsp. of baking soda. Spit it out, and brush your teeth about 30 minutes later.
Is It Safe to See the Dentist During Pregnancy?
Yes! In fact, your dentist may recommend additional cleanings during your second trimester and early third trimester to help control gingivitis. If your last visit to the dentist was more than 6 months ago or if you notice any changes in your mouth, schedule an appointment. Always let your dental office know how far along you are when you call, and tell your dentist of any change in the medications you take or if you have received any special advice from your physician.
Help! Brushing Makes Me Gag.
During a time when anything (and possibly everything) may make you gag, take it slow and figure out what works for you. Changing your flavor of toothpaste, using a brush with a smaller head, or brushing at different times of the day may help. If you need to swish and spit before coming back to brush your teeth, try that as well. The important thing is to keep up your routine because you’re slightly more at risk for cavities, thanks to acid on your teeth from morning sickness, possible diet changes and feeling too tired to brush.
Does What I Eat Affect My Baby’s Teeth?
Your baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of pregnancy, and eating well can help them form correctly. Get plenty of nutrients – including vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous. To reduce the risk of neural tube defects, you need 600 mcg of folic acid each day throughout your pregnancy. Take folic acid supplements, and eat foods high in folate. While you're at it, drink plenty of water with fluoride to keep your own teeth strong.
Are X-Rays Safe During Pregnancy?
Yes. Routine X-rays can generally wait until after pregnancy. Dental X-rays are sometimes necessary if you have a dental emergency or need a dental problem diagnosed. Your dentist or hygienist will cover you with a protective apron that minimizes exposure to the abdomen. Your dental office will also whenever possible cover your throat with a protective thyroid collar to protect the thyroid from radiation.
Is It Safe to Have a Dental Procedure?
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agrees that procedures like cavity fillings and crowns are safe and important to have during pregnancy to prevent potential infection. It may be more uncomfortable to sit in a dental chair the later you are in pregnancy, so schedule dental work in your second trimester, if possible. Cosmetic procedures, like whitening, should wait until after baby arrives. If you need an emergency procedure, work with your dentist on the best plan for the health of you and your baby.