As many as three out of four pregnant women have or develop gingivitis during pregnancy. The belief is that pregnancy hormones increase the risk of this early stage of gum disease. If it goes untreated, bone loss and gum infections are possible.
It’s incredibly important for women to go for regular check-ups during pregnancy. It’s also important to understand what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to cosmetic dentistry during your pregnancy. Take a closer look at oral care and cosmetic dentistry during pregnancy.
How Pregnancy Impacts Oral Health
When you’re pregnant, your progesterone and estrogen levels increase. This can loosen the tissue that holds teeth in place. Not only does this increase the risk of gingivitis, but gingivitis needs to be addressed to keep it from advancing into gum disease. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth. When an infant is born premature, it increases the risk of health issues later on.
If you’re one of many women who develop morning sickness, you may throw up throughout the day. Even the smallest thing, such as smelling certain foods cooking, can trigger the nausea that has you running for the toilet. Stomach acid can erode enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay. Brushing and flossing may not be appealing when you’re always nauseous, but it’s imperative.
Another common occurrence in pregnancy is bumps that form on the gums and between the teeth and are called pyogenic granuloma. These pregnancy tumors are not cancerous, but they do bleed easily and usually look very raw. They contain a lot of blood vessels, so they bleed easily, which may keep you from wanting to brush your teeth. You need to keep brushing. Ask your dentist how to brush around them. Typically, they disappear after you give birth, but it’s important to have a dentist monitoring them to ensure they don’t pose problems.
Here’s something that isn’t true. Have you been told that your growing fetus is going to steal the calcium from your teeth if you don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet? It’s an old wives’ tale. It’s believed the myth started when women experienced loosening teeth due to gum disease.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Teeth and Your Baby?
How do you protect your teeth and ensure your oral health doesn’t impact your developing baby? Know and watch for common signs of oral health issues like these:
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Red, inflamed gums
- Sores on the gums or between the teeth
- Tooth pain
Keep up with recommended dental cleanings and exams. If your doctor or dentist recommends that you come in for cleanings every three or four months instead of every six months, make sure that you follow the instructions.
Make sure you tell your dentist and doctor everything you’re taking, and this includes any over-the-counter medications. Your doctor and dentist need to have a thorough list of supplements, prescription medications, and over-the-counter pain medications to ensure there are no conflicts with medications you’re prescribed for an infection or other health issue that arises during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy increases your blood volume, which leads to some women finding their gums bleed easily. It is important to ask your dentist about this as it can be a sign of gum disease. If it’s determined that your gums are fine, don’t let the issue keep you from brushing and flossing your teeth. You need to brush twice a day and floss once. If you have a water flosser, use that at one point of the day and use normal floss at the other.
If you’re suffering from morning sickness, rinse your mouth and chew xylitol gum to help prevent erosion. If you can tolerate it, rinse with a mixture of one cup of water and one teaspoon of baking soda to neutralize the acid.
Avoid sugary foods and beverages. That sweet glass of ginger ale may be tempting, but the sugar and corn syrup are bad for your teeth. If you have to have it to settle your stomach, look for options that sweeten with stevia instead. No matter what you eat or drink, get in the habit of following that item with a glass of water to help rinse your teeth.
When you’re hungry, eat foods that help scrape and break up plaque from the teeth. Raw fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and celery are among the best.
What Dental Care Procedures Are Best Avoided Until the Baby Is Born?
When you’re pregnant what is safe to undergo and what is risky to an unborn fetus?
If X-rays are necessary during a dental visit, make sure your dental hygienist knows you’re pregnant. X-rays do have low levels of radiation, but there are ways to reduce any possible exposure to radiation from that X-ray. A protective apron on your body and a shield on your neck are the best ways to stay safe and protect your baby.
Necessary dental care like fillings, cleanings, and repairs of chips or cracks shouldn’t be avoided. If you’re worried about the use of antibiotics or local anesthetics during pregnancy, the ADA rates all of these as safe to use during pregnancy.
- Local anesthesia without or with epinephrine
If you experience dental anxiety, nitrous oxide is risky. It’s classified as a Category C risk, so any dental work you have must be done under local anesthesia only and not using nitrous oxide. If you do have anxiety and aren’t sure you can get through a procedure, talk to your OB/GYN and dentist to see if other options may help ease fear. You might find a headset playing a relaxation podcast or soothing music is helpful.
Veneers are a popular cosmetic dental option for filling gaps or improving the color or shape of teeth. While they’re applied with lidocaine, which is safe during pregnancy, it can be stressful as you’re having the surface of your tooth prepared. Sitting still for an extended period is challenging, especially with a baby kicking or headbutting your bladder. Wait until after you have the baby.
Are Any Cosmetic Treatments Okay During Pregnancy?
One thing stands out as a good time to get work done. Pregnancy can loosen teeth and make it easier for them to shift around if you’ve been considering straightening your teeth. ClearCorrect is used to straighten teeth. These clear custom trays are customized to help you get the straight smile you desire. Ask your dentist about the use of ClearCorrect during pregnancy and see if it’s a good fit for your needs.