Pregnancy is a miracle, but it’s a miracle that comes with its own bag of complications. This goes for oral health as well: changing hormones increase the severity of the body’s reaction to various stimuli (like plaque), a more sensitive gag reflex gets in the way of the usual oral hygiene regimen, and everything comes at a time when oral health is the last thing on an expecting mother’s mind. Routine check ups at the dentist are crucial at this time, as well as having overall awareness and alerting the dentist early to any changes to your oral health. These will help to prevent complications, and early action will help to keep any symptoms from worsening.
The following are common concerns during pregnancy.
- Symptoms: bleeding, swollen gums
- Cause: hormonal changes make the mouth more irritable to plaque, causing gums to swell.
- Prevention: practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Stay on schedule with professional cleanings and alert dentist of any pain.
Pregnancy Tumor/pyogenic granuloma
- Symptoms: Lump/growth on gums that frequently will bleed and may be painful
- Cause: hormonal imbalance makes gums more easily irritated. Despite the scary name, Pregnancy Tumors are not cancerous nor contagious.
- Prevention: practice good oral hygiene. In most cases, Pregnancy Tumors disappear upon the baby’s birth and the dentist may choose to leave them alone. If the lump does interfere with eating, the dentist may advise for it to be directly removed through a safe process or for the stimuli that cause the lump to be removed.
Increased risk of tooth decay
- Symptoms: cavities
- Cause: hormone changes; morning sickness exposing mouth to more acid which eats away at the enamel.
- Prevention: practice good oral hygiene. Rinse mouth with baking soda and water after throwing up from morning sickness (mix 1 tsp baking soda to 1 cup water).
- Symptoms: moving or wobbly teeth
- Cause: increased levels of progesterone and estrogen can affect ligaments and bones that support the teeth, making them feel looser than usual.
- Prevention: practice good oral hygiene. Symptoms should go away with birth, but alert the dentist especially if teeth are still loose after birth.
The most important things to remember during pregnancy are to keep your dentist updated on any changes or discomfort, continue with routine visits, and maintain good oral hygiene. Your dentist will help ensure that oral complications are not a part of everything you need to worry about during pregnancy.