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How Pregnancy Affects Your Oral Health

PREGNANCY AFFECTS NEARLY every aspect of your life–your lifestyle, your diet, your health, and much more! Your mouth is no exception to the changes your body may experience during pregnancy. During this special time, you’ll need to pay particular attention to your oral health for both your sake and your growing baby’s.

This past Monday we had a lady come in that was 9 months pregnant! She is due on Saturday, she looked very ready to meet the baby and be done with being pregnant. She had a chipped molar and was ripping her tongue apart with the sharp edge of the broken tooth. This got us thinking about dentistry and pregnancy. In this case, we didn’t want to put any undue stress on the mother and baby. So we patched the tooth up and we will fix the chipped tooth permanently after the baby is delivered. (See this recent post where we talk about how to fix a chipped, cracked, or broken tooth) Neither we nor the mother wants to have a baby in the dental office.  What about problems with gums and what do you do if you have a tooth problem while pregnant? That sounds like a good topic for a blog post!

You May Be More Prone To Dental Problems

One of the main concerns we have for expectant mothers is what we call pregnancy gingivitis. Around 40 percent of pregnant women have some form of gum disease–gingivitis being the first stage. Because of raised hormone levels during pregnancy, you may be more sensitive to dental plaque than before, causing your gums to be sensitive, swell and bleed. Studies have linked mothers with gum disease to premature delivery and lower birth weights. Don’t worry pregnancy gingivitis is NOT gum periodontitis which is what we are worried about with gum disease. It is important to keep your brushing and flossing up even if you get some gingivitis it will go away quickly once the baby is delivered.

In about five percent of pregnancies, women may experience lumps along the gum line and in between teeth. Luckily, these swellings are harmless and usually go away after the baby is born. Even though these are known as “pregnancy tumors,” there is no need to be alarmed as they are not cancerous and can be easily removed by your dentist.

Morning sickness can also cause dental woes for expectant mothers

Pregnant women often complain of sensitive gag reflexes and even routine tasks such as brushing and flossing can induce vomiting. Exposure to acid, especially strong stomach acid, can lead to tooth enamel erosion, decay, and sensitivity. After vomiting, we recommend rinsing your mouth out with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water to neutralize stomach acid and prevent any damage to teeth.

Protect Your Teeth During Pregnancy

To protect your teeth during pregnancy, one of your first stops should be the dentist’s office. If you are planning on getting pregnant, talk to your dentist beforehand so you can fix any dental issues before conceiving. And when you do find out that you are pregnant, don’t just go to your OB/GYN, make your way to the dentist’s as well!

Routine cleanings and checkups are safe during pregnancy, and as you may be more susceptible to certain dental problems at this time, getting frequent cleanings is a must. You will also need to be diligent about your oral hygiene at home. As always, brush at least twice a day and floss daily.

Another thing to remember is that your diet matters. Did you know that baby’s teeth start developing between the third and sixth months of pregnancy? You will need plenty of nutrients–specifically vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium, and phosphorous–to make sure your teeth, gums, and bones develop properly.

Just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t come to the dentist!

In fact, coming to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned is very important. Our Chattanooga dental office sees expectant mothers all of the time. If work needs to be done we typically hold it until after the pregnancy.  If there is an emergency situation Dr. Mark McOmie will consult your OB/GYN before work is done to make sure we use the safest and best protocols. We want the best for the baby and mother. Here in Chattanooga, our dental office has a great relationship with the OB community we talk to them all of the time and we have no problem incorporating their instructions to meet our patient’s needs.

Mothers, We Are Here For You

Pregnancy can bring with it a lot of change and responsibility, but we want our patients to know that we are here for you. We want to make sure that your dental health is taken care of so you can focus on preparing for your little one to come into the world. So whether you’re planning on becoming pregnant or already are, we’d love to see you in our office!

Our patients mean the world to us! Give us a call with any questions 423-899-1112.

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