A big, happy smile can be the first sign that a woman’s pregnant. Unfortunately, dental problems during pregnancy will wipe that smile away. What can be done?
First, understand. The hormonal and circulatory changes happening in your body, combined with more frequent eating, can result in dental problems. Old dental problems may become worse or new ones may surface.
Here are three common problems we see at South Lake – and some advice for bringing a smile back to your face.
Problem One: Increased Salivation. You may notice that your mouth produces a lot more saliva, particularly early in pregnancy, when you feel nauseated. Increased salivation is likely caused by enlarged blood vessels in your tongue and mouth.
Our advice: The good news is that salivating won’t harm you any more than it does your Labrador. The bad news is there’s not much you can do to stop it.
However, we hope it makes you feel better to know that the saliva in your mouth performs a lot of good deeds. Saliva (better known as spit):
- Neutralizes the gastric acid that causes heartburn, another delight of pregnancy
- Produces enzymes that aid in digestion
- Contains proteins with antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. All of these help protect your teeth and mouth.
We hope that makes you feel just a little less bit better until this symptom subsides!
Problem Two: Bleeding gums. Increased blood flow and hormone changes can make your gums bleed, which is a sign of gum disease. Gums also become more sensitive to brushing and flossing during pregnancy.
Our advice: Now is not the time to stop brushing and flossing. Practice good oral hygiene and continue regular dental visits. See below for details.
Problem Three: Plaque. Plaque is the invisible, sticky layer of harmful bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. It produces damaging acids that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Increased hormone levels may aggravate the way gum tissues react to plaque. Frequent snacking may also increase plaque production.
For bleeding gums and plaque, as well as for general good health, we suggest our patients take the following measures:
Observe good dental hygiene:
- Brush your teeth after every meal and snack.
- Floss at least once every day.
- Use a soft toothbrush and avoid vigorous scrubbing.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
- Drink fluorinated water. If your water is not fluorinated, our doctors and nurses may prescribe a supplement.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
Visit a dentist:
- Keep your regular dental appointment, but tell your dentist and dental hygienist that you are pregnant.
- Inform them about any health or medication changes that occur during your pregnancy.
- Ask your dentist or hygienist to show you how to brush and floss correctly
- If visiting the dentist makes you more anxious during your pregnancy, discuss the situation with your dentist so special care can be taken to avoid stress.
- Schedule dental visits earlier in your pregnancy, when it may be more comfortable to sit for extended periods.
- Avoid elective dental treatment, such as teeth whitening or bonding, especially during the first three months of your pregnancy.
- Make sure that your dentist takes only X-rays necessary for immediate treatment, and that you wear a leaded apron during the procedure.
We hope the above advice will bring a smile back to your face and keep it there. For more information and specifics, visit this site from the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center or the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.