When you’re pregnant, the last thing you probably want to do is to schedule a dental appointment.
But the hormonal changes that aid your baby’s development can also take a toll on your oral health.
Here are three ways pregnancy can affect your oral health, plus tips to take care of yourself and your baby during this special time.
1. Morning Sickness
Many women experience morning sickness during their first trimester. Unless you experience severe weight loss, it’s usually not something to worry about. However, morning sickness can wreak havoc on your teeth and lead to more cavities.
To combat morning sickness, try eating small snacks throughout the day to avoid an empty stomach. Dry carbs like crackers, dry toast, and popcorn can be especially helpful to settle your stomach first thing in the morning. Drinking peppermint tea can also reduce nausea.
2. Cravings for Sugar
Pregnancy cravings are a rite of passage for pregnancy. Although they’re not fully understood, they’re believed to be largely caused by hormonal shifts that occur during pregnancy. Is it bad to indulge in Rocky Road ice cream during your pregnancy? As with regular dietary guidelines, it’s fine to indulge occasionally, but in moderation.
If you experience strong cravings for sugar, make sure you’re monitoring your intake and taking good care of your oral health. Increased sugar consumption coupled with pregnancy hormone changes can make you especially susceptible to cavities.
3. Increased Blood Flow and Hormonal Changes
During pregnancy, hormonal changes can cause your blood flow to increase by 50-80%. This can make your gums extra sensitive and susceptible to infection. About half of pregnant women will develop swollen, bleeding gums, known as pregnancy gingivitis.
If you develop pregnancy gingivitis, talk to your dentist. Gingivitis is easily treatable, but it’s important to catch it before it becomes more serious. (If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into a more serious type of gum disease known as periodontitis, which increases your risk for giving birth prematurely.)
Care for Your Oral Health During Pregnancy
The best way to care for your oral health is to make sure you’re practicing good dental hygiene. Brush and floss regularly!
It’s also important to keep regularly scheduled dental appointments. Routine dental care and treatment of dental conditions should not be delayed or avoided because of pregnancy.
Wondering about safety? Dental x-rays (with proper shielding) and procedures such as tooth extraction, cavity filling, etc. are not harmful to your pregnancy. If you have questions or concerns about a specific dental procedure, just ask!
Get Your Pregnancy Questions Answered!
What’s the best way to care for yourself and your baby? Should you make changes to your diet? How about exercise? How often do you need to see your doctor?
It’s normal to have a lot of questions. You deserve the answers you need to care for yourself and your baby during this special time.
That’s why we’ve created Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. Get the information you need to take care of yourself and your baby, based on our expertise as women’s healthcare providers.