A woman's body goes through many changes during pregnancy. Among these changes are increases in hormone levels, which can make dental problems worse. Relatively minor dental problems can become markedly worse if preventive steps are not taken. The Importance of Good Dental Health During Pregnancy
The dental problems that a woman may face during pregnancy include:
- Tooth enamel damage
- Tooth decay
- Oral tumors
Good oral hygiene during pregnancy is important for both the mother and the fetus. Research suggests that the bacteria that causes periodontitis can also get into the mother's bloodstream and affect the unborn child. It is believed that periodontitis can cause babies to be born prematurely and with low birth weight. Periodontitis is one of the problems that can result from variations in progesterone and estrogen levels that occur during pregnancy.
Tips for Ensuring Dental Health During Pregnancy Fortunately, there are ways to avoid having dental problems while pregnant; good oral hygiene is key. Pregnant women should:
- Get dental examinations regularly; women who are expecting should be sure to inform Kristen Ritzau DDS that they are pregnant.
- Exercise good dental hygiene, including regular brushing (with fluoride toothpaste) and flossing; toothbrushes should be replaced every three months.
- Use a mouth rinse formulated to rid the mouth of microbes that can cause diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis; the rinse should not contain alcohol.
- Use chewing gums or other products that contain xylitol; these may be used to reduce bacteria in the mouth that can result in tooth decay.
- Take steps to prevent tooth enamel damage from exposure to stomach acid. Morning sickness is a common part of pregnancy for many women and vomiting exposes the tooth enamel to stomach acid, which can cause cavities; using a mouth rinse containing baking soda can neutralize the acid and protect teeth.
- Avoid dental treatments during the first trimester and during the latter half of the third trimester if possible. While emergency treatments are permissible, the safest time to have these procedures performed is during the second trimester.
- Avoid foods that contain high amounts of sugar.
- Drink water regularly throughout the day.
- Avoid dental x-rays when pregnant, except for dental emergencies.
It is a good idea to plan ahead and take care of dental issues prior to becoming pregnant. Kristen Ritzau DDS can assess your dental health prior to and during your pregnancy. Call today for a consultation (949) 238-6850!