Pregnant women have a lot to look forward to during their nine months of anticipation. Friends and family members may shower you with gifts, you and your partner can remodel or redecorate to make a stimulating environment for the new baby, and you may even reprioritize your finances to plan your child’s bright future.
But among the many exciting tasks you face during pregnancy, don’t forget to take your health into account. Specifically, the physiological changes your body enacts to protect the baby during your pregnancy can have a detrimental effect on your dental and oral health. Even if you have strong teeth and healthy gums before your pregnancy, take care to get regular dental checkups and cleanings while pregnant before more serious problems develop.
Below, we’ve outlined the four most common dental health problems that plague pregnant women. If you identify with any of the following symptoms, contact your dentist immediately.
1. Decaying Enamel
Enamel is the outside layer that protects the softer inner core of your teeth. But when you become pregnant, your body increases hormone levels that could potentially damage enamel in your mouth.
During pregnancy, you may notice that you have more stomach and digestive problems than you used to. These problems derive from a hormone that relaxes your stomach muscles and makes it harder for you to keep food down. Every bout of morning sickness or pregnancy-induced gastric reflux brings stomach acid and its destructive powers into your mouth. The increase of acidic coating eats away at tooth enamel and leads to cavities.
To protect your mouth against acid and decay, take the following precautions:
1. Don’t brush your teeth immediately after you vomit. Immediate brushing can cause you to grind the acid into your teeth instead of removing it entirely. Instead, wait a few minutes to make sure your stomach has settled.
2. Rinse out your mouth with water.
3. After you rinse out the acid and bile, disinfect your teeth with mouthwash. If you use a brand that includes fluoride, rinsing with mouthwash will also strengthen your enamel over time.
4. An hour after rinsing and gargling, brush your teeth to make sure they stay clean.
These steps will help you develop good oral hygiene habits and strengthen your enamel against biological threats.
2. Craving-Induced Cavities
Many women report unusual food cravings at some point during their pregnancy. Most cravings won’t affect your overall health-but if you find yourself attracted to sugary snacks that you used to avoid, your teeth may face serious consequences.
To give in to your craving without sacrificing your oral health, opt for healthy foods that also give you a jolt of sweetness. Fresh fruit or sugar-free gum may supply you with the sugary taste you need without the harmful side effects.
You can also boost your oral health when you eat nutritious foods. Meals rich in calcium and vitamin D will strengthen your teeth’s internal structures and help your body absorb all the necessary vitamins and minerals to fight infections in your mouth.
Some low-fat sources of vitamin D and calcium include:
If you are lactose intolerant, many dietary supplements offer calcium chewable tablets to give you the nutrition you need without the irritating lactose enzyme. When you take small steps to improve your diet, you keep your teeth strong and prevent cavities that can lead to more serious mouth and jaw problems.
3. Developing Plaque
Women in their first trimester of pregnancy face increased risk of pregnancy gingivitis, a gum infection brought on by pregnancy hormones. Symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis include swollen gums and bleeding inside the mouth (especially after brushing and flossing).
Protect your mouth against gingivitis before it develops into a more serious gum condition, like periodontitis. To clean plaque and bacteria, pay attention to your gums when you brush your teeth. Floss to eliminate plaque buildup between teeth and close to the gum line. You may also prefer a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean gums during your pregnancy.
4. Pregnancy Tumors
In addition to tooth and gum problems, women also are at risk for growing pregnancy tumors inside the mouth. Despite the frightening name, pregnancy tumors are not cancerous; rather, infected portions of the mouth form a small growth.
Most pregnancy tumors take care of themselves after your child is born. But if a growth inside your mouth ruins your ability to eat or clean your teeth property, consult your dentist. He or she can inspect the tumor and remove it if necessary so you can keep up your everyday dental hygiene habits.
If you notice any of the above symptoms during your pregnancy, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Regular dental checkups and cleanings will help you mitigate the influence of p