As a pregnant woman, you’re thinking about your diet, your exercise, your daily activities, and even your sleeping position – not to mention desperately trying to plan for life after your baby’s birth. How is there any time left for your oral health? Don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed by this extra consideration – instead, just schedule an exam as soon as you know that you’ll be bringing a life into the world.
Why is dental care so important during pregnancy? Because the changes that take place in your body extend to your mouth. And with the mouth-body connection, dental disease could potentially cause complications and is even more important to avoid than usual. Set up your dental appointment, and keep reading to learn why it’s absolutely crucial that you tend to your teeth for these next nine months.
Pregnant Moms Aren’t Getting Dental Exams
Last month, Cigna released findings from their national survey of moms-to-be. They found that while 76% of pregnant women experience some kind of oral health issue, 43% don’t go for dental checkups while they’re expecting. They find it tough to react to bleeding gums or toothaches because they’ve already got so much on their plates (and some also struggle to find insurance that will cover their dental needs) – but these are significant warning signs that merit professional intervention.
During pregnancy, your hormones are on a nonstop roller coaster ride. This affects the soft tissues in your mouth, and makes it much easier for your gums to swell. Inflamed gums are vulnerable, and pregnancy gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease. If your gums are red, tender, sore, or puffy, they should be examined by a dentist. It can be tough to notice if your gums are changing, especially because gingivitis isn’t always painful – this is one reason why we might recommend that you receive more frequent exams during your pregnancy, so that we can keep an eye on everything.
Consequences of Gum Disease for Pregnant Women
Periodontitis is always serious, but has an especially big impact on pregnant moms and their babies. The inflammation and harmful bacteria present because of gum disease have larger systemic ramifications. Gum disease may contribute to complications with your delivery, and can contribute to premature birth and low birth weight. There may also be issues with your baby’s likelihood of dental disease as they grow.
What You Can Do!
- Brush and floss (especially floss!) – Oral hygiene is now more vital than ever. Removing plaque and bacteria before they irritate your gums will help reduce the risk of gingivitis and inflammation. Not usually a flosser? Take this opportunity to get on top of your hygiene. Floss removes bacteria from areas that your toothbrush doesn’t reach, and also strengthens your gum line against irritants. If you haven’t been flossing consistently, you might notice bleeding or soreness when you first get into the habit – don’t worry, this will fade within the first week. Just keep flossing!
- Keep an eye on your gums – You need to be vigilant for signs of gingivitis. Learn about the symptoms so that you’re aware of what you should be watching out for. As soon as something seems like it’s changing or slightly off, schedule an exam to be sure that everything’s okay.
- Eat right – You’re eating not only for your own health, but for your baby’s – and what you consume affects their tooth development (which begins between months 3-6 of pregnancy). Be sure to get plenty of Vitamin A, C, and D, as well as protein, calcium, and phosphorous. Snack on low-sugar foods and embrace produce and dairy.
We want to help guide you through pregnancy – just get in touch if you ever have questions about your teeth or gums (or your baby’s)!