Oral Health Tips for Expectant Mothers
As any woman who has been pregnant can tell you, there are many health changes that come with carrying a baby. Oral health is no exception. Here are five things to know if you or your significant other are expecting.
1) Be aware of pregnancy gingivitis symptoms. Expectant mothers experience hormone changes that can exaggerate the way gum tissue reacts to plaque. If that plaque isn’t removed, it may eventually cause gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease. This can even lead to bone loss around the teeth. Symptoms include gums that become swollen and bleed easily when brushed. Pay extra attention to getting rid of plaque while pregnant to avoid problems.
2) Don't ignore dry mouth. Dry mouth is a pretty common side effect during pregnancy, but it's not one to take lightly. Good saliva flow helps cleanse your mouth of food particles and bacteria. Without saliva, those harmful things linger in your mouth and increase your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Stay hydrated, and pay close attention to good oral hygiene habits such as brushing with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and flossing regularly.
3) Pregnancy “tumors” are nothing to worry about. Good news: Though these sound scary, they're just benign growths – not actually tumors – that result from swollen gums. Typically, they go away on their own.
4) It's safe to see the dentist when pregnant. Women who are trying to become pregnant should see their dentists regularly. If you become pregnant and haven't had a cleaning in the past year, it's recommended you see your dentist during the first trimester for a dental cleaning and guidance on maintaining your oral health during your pregnancy. If dental work is needed, the second trimester is the safest time to get it done. If a dental emergency happens in the third trimester, the mom-to-be should consult her obstetrician before moving forward with any procedures.
5) X-rays should be avoided, but are acceptable, if necessary. Any procedure that can wait until after the baby is born – including X-rays – should. But emergencies happen; and when they do, dentists will take great care to expose moms-to-be to the lowest amount of radiation possible by protecting the woman's neck and lap with a lead apron.
To learn more about what you should look out for during pregnancy click here.