Tooth decay and pregnancy
It’s may be an old wife’s tale that you can lose a tooth for every pregnancy, but the concept of dodging decay should prompt a trip to your dentist. Actually, it’s best to have your teeth cleaned and checked for any trouble spots before pregnancy, but not all of us have done that.
There is good reason to visit your dentist now. During pregnancy, your gums are more likely to become inflamed or infected. Most pregnant women have some bleeding of their gums, especially while brushing or flossing their teeth. Inflamed gums are called “gingivitis.” Infected gums are called “periodontal disease.” You may also notice that your mouth produces more saliva during pregnancy. Your gums and teeth may change during pregnancy because of hormonal changes. Increased blood flow throughout your body can cause swelling, sensitivity and tenderness in your gums
It’s important to keep you gums and teeth healthy during pregnancy.
Keep teeth and gums clean - If possible, brush after every meal for at least 5 minutes at a time. Floss daily. If possible, floss after every meal. If you’re vomiting (so sorry), be sure to clean your teeth afterward to get rid of extra stomach acids in your mouth. They’re hard on your tummy and hard on your teeth.
Be gentle with your teeth and gums - Use a soft-bristled brush and brush gently. If you have a lot of sensitivity, try using toothpaste designed for sensitive gums. If your gums hurt after brushing, apply ice to soothe the pain.
Cut down on sweets - Candy, cookies, cake, soft drinks and other sweets can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. Instead, have fresh fruit or make other healthy choices to satisfy your sweet tooth. Watch out for some dried fruits, like raisins and figs that can stick in the crevasses of your teeth. They’re yummy but contain lots of natural sugar, so remember to brush!
Get regular dental care - If left unchecked, some conditions, like gingivitis, may lead to more serious gum disease. Be sure to have a dental checkup early in pregnancy to help your mouth remain healthy. You may even want to see your dentist more often than usual.
Don’t put off dental work until after delivery - Decaying teeth can cause infection that could harm your baby. If you think you need a dental filling, don’t panic and go get it checked out. Always be sure to tell your dentist that you’re pregnant and how far along you are.
Call your dentist right away if you notice:
- Your gums bleed a lot
- Your gums are painful
- You have bad breath that doesn’t go away
- You lose a tooth
- You have a lump or growth in your mouth
- You have pain in a tooth