Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life filled with many new experiences. Frequent visits to the doctor are common during this time but many pregnant women forget or are misinformed about the importance of visiting the dentist. Many changes in a woman’s body and lifestyle can lead to changes in her mouth.
Nausea, vomiting and heartburn affect many pregnant women. Regular acid in the mouth can weaken tooth enamel making teeth more sensitive or susceptible to cavities. Additionally the frequent use of antacids or snacking to combat nausea can lead to an increase in cavities. If possible, switch to a sugar free antacid or a natural remedy such as ginger to help with acid. Speak with your dentist about these alternatives and healthy snacks. The dentist can also discuss how topical fluoride can help protect the teeth from weakening and decrease sensitivity.
Increases in hormones can lead to an increase in bleeding or swelling of the gums. Bumps on the gums called “pregnancy tumors” may develop. These tumors are benign and usually resolve after delivery. However, a small percentage persists and may need to be removed by the dentist or oral surgeon. If the dentist notices an increase in bleeding in the gums, he or she may recommend more frequent cleanings to keep the gums healthy. Lastly, the dentist should monitor and screen all pregnant women for periodontal (gum) disease. Research has suggested women with periodontal disease may be more at risk for small or premature babies.
Don’t shy away from dental care while pregnant! The dentist knows which medications and anesthetics are safe to use during pregnancy and keeping your mouth free of infection is keeping your baby healthy!