Many women avoid the dentist when they are pregnant, even though maintaining good oral health during this time is very important. Pregnant women experience hormonal changes that can increase gum sensitivity and gum bleeding, which affect the way the gums respond to the irritants in plaque. When this inflammation of the gum occurs, it is commonly called “pregnancy gingivitis.” Although this is a non-destructive type of gum disease, it can lead to the more serious “periodontitis” if left untreated.
Symptoms of “Pregnancy Gingivitis”
The symptoms of gingivitis are usually undetected until they have reached the periodontitis stage. Symptoms for periodontitis include:
- Bleeding gums
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Gums that are receding or separating from the teeth
- Loose or separating teeth
- Sores or pus in your mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- Painful chewing
Along with the myriad of problems caused by gum disease, it has also been linked to causing premature births and low birth weights. However, these problems can easily be prevented with regular visits to your dentist. Remember, you may be able to remove plaque from your teeth at home, but only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove the hard tartar buildup that can lead to gingivitis or gum disease.
The Importance of Maintaining Oral Health During Pregnancy
Studies have shown that brushing and flossing your teeth regularly during pregnancy can prevent poor oral health from being passed down to your child. If you already have “pregnancy gingivitis,” your daily oral hygiene regimen will be a key factor in determining whether your gum disease is stopped, slowed, or worsened before you visit your dentist for treatment.
If the pregnancy “gag reflex” is affecting your regular brushing schedule, here are a few solutions to help prevent this from happening:
– Try a different flavor of toothpaste
– Use a toothbrush with a smaller head
– Brush your teeth more slowly
– Concentrate on your breathing while brushing
You can also help prevent gingivitis and tooth decay by eating a balanced diet and by cutting back on extra sugary and fatty foods. A balanced diet is great for your teeth and gums, and will definitely help your body as it nurtures your growing baby.
Preventing Decay Caused by Morning Sickness
A routine dental checkup is also important for pregnant women who experience morning sickness. Vomiting on a regular basis increases the presence of acids in your mouth, which can erode tooth enamel. It is a good idea to rinse your mouth with plain water and then wait 20 to 30 minutes after vomiting before brushing. Since the stomach acid may soften your tooth enamel, the vigorous action of the toothbrush immediately after vomiting can further damage your teeth.
When to Schedule Your Dentist Appointment
When you schedule your appointment you should tell your dentist if you are pregnant, and discuss information about your stress levels, past miscarriages, and medications you are taking. It is best to schedule your appointment during your second trimester, when any necessary treatment won’t harm the baby in the most critical stages of development.
Precautions During Pregnancy
If you are concerned that dental treatments, X-rays, or other procedures can potentially be harmful to your baby, again, I recommend avoiding dental treatments during the first and third trimesters when the baby’s growth and development are in their peak stages. Women in their reproductive years should not have any cosmetic dental procedures such as dental implants or porcelain veneers if they are, or plan on, becoming pregnant.
At my Beverly Hills dental practice I take care to avoid using X-rays on a pregnant patient unless there is an emergency. However, X-rays are much safer today than in past decades, and we will take extra precautions when performing them if it becomes necessary. Dental anesthetics, pain medications, and antibiotics are usually not prescribed for patients who are in their first trimester.
It is my goal to help you achieve a beautiful, healthy smile in the safest possible way. If you would like more information about the procedures performed at my dental practice, please visit my website or schedule an appointment today by calling (310) 273-0111.