How to Care for Your Oral Health During Pregnancy
If you're expecting, your first thought may not include looking after your oral health. As your trusted professional dental hygienists, we’re here to tell you that your pregnancy journey affects your whole body, including your teeth and gums.
As a pregnant woman, your body requires more nutrients to accommodate the health of the little one inside. If you’re not paying attention to your teeth and gums, you’ll be more likely to encounter oral problems that put you and your baby's health at risk. To avoid potential complications, let’s examine how you should take care of your oral health during this special time.
Possible oral complications during pregnancy
Before we get into the how, it’s important to know why you should look after your oral health during pregnancy. The most common oral complications expectant mothers may encounter before giving birth can include:
- Gum disease – According to National Women’s Health NZ, up to 70% of pregnant women are affected by gingivitis. Expecting mums are more prone to gum disease due to pregnancy hormones that alter the way their gums react to plaque. These hormones may influence the way your immune system responds to bacteria and may even encourage bacteria growth. Symptoms include redness, bleeding, and swelling of gums. A more severe form of gum disease is Periodontitis, which involves the loss of tissue and bone that holds your teeth firm. Smokers and diabetics are more susceptible to Periodontitis, and pregnant women are no exception. Periodontitis in pregnant women can cause premature births, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia, and pregnancy diabetes.
- Pregnancy Granuloma – Abnormal gum growth is also possible during pregnancy. This case is known as pregnancy granuloma. They are lumps in the gums that commonly appear after the third month of pregnancy. A pregnancy granuloma is caused by the inflammatory response of gums to local irritants such as plaque or tartar. Albeit painless and non-cancerous, the lumps that grow in your gums between your teeth may feel discomforting when it interferes with your bite or as it accumulates debris.
- Dental erosion – Morning sickness is not that uncommon during pregnancy. However, frequent vomiting during pregnancy can have an erosive effect on your teeth's surface. When you vomit, gastric acids can dissolve the tooth enamel, which may lead to increased chances of tooth decay. Therefore, pregnant women are advised to avoid acidic drinks, as they’re highly erosive and can cause enamel damage and tooth decay.
Ways to strengthen oral health during pregnancy
- Visit your dentist before pregnancy – Undergoing dental examinations as you plan to become pregnant is a good way to ensure your oral health is prepared for pregnancy. Visiting us before you become pregnant allows us to identify and address any oral issues beforehand. If that isn’t possible, scheduling a dental check-up during pregnancy is recommended to maintain good oral health.
- Quit smoking – Smoking can have negative repercussions, not just on your oral health, but on your whole body and your baby’s health as well. We advise anyone (but especially pregnant mums) to quit smoking as soon as possible.
- Follow oral hygiene best practices – The simplest ways to prevent oral health issues during pregnancy start at home. Practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing to gently remove plaque.
- Stick to a healthy diet – Though food cravings are unavoidable during pregnancy, pay attention to what you eat. Stick to a healthy diet and opt healthy snacks. Avoid soft drinks and sugary foods and replace carbonated drinks with glasses of water.
Maintain a good oral health for you and your baby
Prioritising your oral health during pregnancy can prevent potential complications such as gum disease and tooth decay. The more you maintain good oral health, the less likely you are to pass these decay-causing bacteria to your little one.
At Naenae Dental Clinic, our high-quality dental services and hygiene treatments can help you achieve the best oral health possible. If you’re looking for a reliable dentist in Lower Hutt, Wellington, that can provide you with comprehensive dental assessments, choose Naenae. Let our experienced dentists develop a treatment plan that ensures you're on top of your oral health. Book a consultation online!