Young pregnant couple on sofa looking at ultrasound image

What to Expect When It Comes To Pregnancy Dentistry

Becoming pregnant is an exciting time in a woman’s life. Every day her body changes to grow a beautiful little baby. Hormones change, hair and skin change, and most notably the belly; however, did you know that inside the mouth, her teeth are also changing? Most women don’t. It is extremely important to understand how the oral tissues change during pregnancy so you can keep yourself, and your growing baby healthy and happy.

How Does Pregnancy Change The Mouth?

While your entire body changes to accommodate the growth of your new child, it’s logical to suspect that your mouth and oral tissues will as well. First and foremost, pregnancy releases a deluge of hormones. These are all necessary in helping your fetus develop into the plump little baby you’ll meet in nine months. These new hormones are responsible for your flowing hair, glowing skin, and puffy, bleeding gums. Not everything gets to be pretty. Elevated hormone levels cause a strange reaction to plaque. When progesterone levels increase in the body and come in contact with plaque in the mouth it stimulates the production of prostaglandins, which causes inflammation of the gums. This creates a situation where gum disease develops quickly.

As a result, gum disease is very common for women in their first and second trimesters. You will likely begin to notice your gums bleeding when you brush and floss your teeth every day. This is normal, however it is still important that you make an appointment with your dentist to keep an eye on things. If this condition is allowed to progress into periodontal disease it can cause problems down the road – more on that in a bit.

Your pregnancy will take a toll on your teeth as well. At the molecular level you body will be pulling calcium from your bones and blood to help create your little one. Replenishing calcium through eating healthy foods and dairy products can help, also using a fluoridated toothpaste can give your teeth a boost of remineralization and help prevent the development of cavities.

There are two other factors of pregnancy that can aid in the deterioration of your oral health, and that’s what goes out and what goes in. Pregnancy hormones will not let up. During the first and second trimesters, and sometimes into the third, they can relax the muscle that keeps food in your stomach, this leads to frequent vomiting, otherwise known as morning sickness. As stomach acid comes in contact with your teeth on a daily basis they can begin to wear down and develop cavities. It is important to brush your teeth after an “episode” to remove this acid. Your body will also thank you for a new burst of minty-fresh breath. Those hormones are also responsible for the food cravings you have while you’re expecting. Suddenly wanting pickles dipped in ice cream, or chocolate-crusted orange slices with a side of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is to be expected, however with prostaglandins already upping the inflammation factor of your gums it’s important to realize how much acidic, sugar-laden foods you’re consuming. Sugar is what the bacteria in your mouth feed on to become plaque and cause dental caries and gum inflammation. Brushing your teeth after a sugary snack is a must to keep your dental health in good order while you’re pregnant.

Periodontal Disease And Premature Birth

As if an expectant mother needs more to worry about, periodontal disease has also been linked to preterm delivery. It is very common for women in their first and second term of pregnancy to develop gum disease to varying degrees. By keeping a beneficial oral hygiene routine in place and brushing twice each day and flossing once each day, it is easy to keep this disease to a minimum and for it to “clear up” after the pregnancy hormones have left the body. However, if the gum disease is allowed to develop into full blown periodontal disease, preterm birth is possible. Doctors do not have a definitive link to premature babies and periodontal disease, but they do believe that the systemic inflammation caused by periodontal disease has a factor in inflaming the placenta and causing preterm birth.

Taking Care Of Your Oral Health During Pregnancy

Taking care of your oral health during pregnancy can be very simple once you understand how your body will change. Knowing that it is very important to brush and floss your teeth every day to prevent bacteria from turning into plaque and to keep the inherent first and second trimester gum disease at bay. Making good choices when it comes to snack, such as foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin C can help your body fortify your teeth and keep both you and your developing baby healthy. It is also extremely important to make an appointment with your Melbourne, Florida dentist when you discover you’re pregnant. Dr. Brazdo can help you along the way and provide you the gentle care you need, as well as answer any questions you have about your oral health during pregnancy.