Pregnancy and Oral Health
If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, it is very important to pay particular attention to your teeth and gums. There are a couple of common myths about pregnancy and teeth: “You lose a tooth for every pregnancy you have” and “If you don’t get enough calcium during your pregnancy, your body takes it from your teeth”. Neither one is true. Tooth decay, not pregnancy can cause tooth loss. The decay process results from dental plaque, which is made up of harmful bacteria. These bacteria use the starch and sugars in food to produce acid. This acid eventually causes destruction of tooth enamel. The more often we eat starchy or sugary foods, the greater number of acid attacks to the enamel.
Gums that become red and tender and likely to bleed is a condition called gingivitis. Many pregnant women experience gingivitis. It often appears in the first trimester and is the result of changing hormone levels. The increase in hormone levels exaggerates the way gum tissues react to irritants in the dental plaque. Untreated gingivitis can lead to serious gum disease called periodontitis. Recent evidence suggests that periodontitis, is linked to premature birth and low birth weight. You can prevent gingivitis and periodontitis by keeping your gums and teeth clean.
If you are planning a pregnancy, schedule a dental checkup. Having your teeth cleaned and examined can reduce the risk of tooth decay and gingivitis. When you visit the dentist, please let your dentist know:
- If you have a high-risk pregnancy.
- What month of the pregnancy you are in.
- Any changes in your oral health.
- If you are taking any medications.
- If you have noticed any swelling, redness, bleeding or sores in your mouth.
Taking care of your mouth is important, not just for your own sake, but also for the sake of your fetus.