4 Things to Know About Oral Care During Pregnancy
Note: The information on this blog is not meant as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare practitioner and/or oral health professional before undertaking any changes in your regular oral care.
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, there’s no doubt you have a lot on your mind. From coping with major changes to your body, researching all the gear you’ll need to properly care for your baby, and preparing for your life to change forever (in a good way!), there’s a lot to think about. So please excuse us for adding one more item to the list.
Pregnancy can complicate your oral health and oral care routine in a number of ways, and it’s important to be informed about these factors so you can plan accordingly. While it’s a myth that “one tooth is lost with every pregnancy,” there are some things you should be aware of when it comes to the relationship between pregnancy and oral health. Here are four things to keep in mind.
It’s important to schedule a dental checkup early in your pregnancy.
If you are planning to become pregnant or have recently learned that you are pregnant, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. That way your dentist can help you map out an oral health care plan for your pregnancy and obtain a baseline read on your oral health, which will make it easier to identify any potential changes or issues that might arise during your pregnancy.
Additionally, if turns out that you need any dental work involving anesthesia, medication, and/or surgery, it’s better to know this sooner rather than later so you can work with your dentist and OB/GYN to determine the best timing for these procedures.
You may be at greater risk of certain oral health issues.
Pregnancy hormones have the potential to provoke a number of oral health issues, including gum disease, tooth decay, dry mouth, and non-cancerous oral growths colloquially referred to as “pregnancy tumors”. Additionally, the vomiting brought on by morning sickness can create an acidic environment in your mouth, which can further increase your risk of oral health issues. While these conditions are treatable, it’s important to be aware of your increased risk and to take preventative measures whenever possible (more on that below).
Oral health care is more important than ever.
As mentioned above, pregnancy can increase the risk of certain oral health issues. While all of these issues are treatable, if left unchecked they may pose some complications. Gum disease, in particular, may potentially increase the risk of delivering a pre-term and/or low-birth-weight baby.
Luckily, you can help reduce the risk of experiencing any of these issues with a dedicated oral health care routine. Your best prevention strategies including brushing well and flossing every day, eating a healthy diet, rinsing your mouth with water after vomiting (if you’re prone to morning sickness), and seeing your dentist more frequently to catch any issues before they progress.
Dental cleanings are safe when you’re pregnant.
While certain invasive dental procedures may pose some complications during pregnancy, regular dental cleanings are perfectly safe. In fact (as mentioned above), they’re a critical factor in maintaining your oral health during pregnancy. This is so well-known that some dental plans may even cover more frequent dental cleanings for pregnant women—check with your insurance provider to learn if your plan falls under this category. At your visits, make sure to keep your dentist up to date about the status of your pregnancy, any medications or vitamins you’re currently taking, and any medical advice your OB/GYN has given you.
Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to delay elective or more invasive procedures until after you’ve given birth. If you have a dental emergency that calls for anesthesia, medication, or surgical procedures during your pregnancy, make sure your dentist and OB/GYN work together to ensure the procedure is as safe as possible.
While pregnancy can make oral health care a little more complicated, try not to let this be a source of stress. With a proper oral health care routine and regular care from your dentist, you can help keep oral complications in check and enjoy a healthier pregnancy.