Your pregnancy is an exciting time in your life, but did you know your changing body and growing baby could also affect your teeth and gums? Likewise, your oral and dental health habits during your pregnancy can set the stage for your youngster’s well-being once he or she is born. Taking excellent care of your mouth and going to the dentist can help you have a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy. Dr. Armstrong, Dr. Sauer, and the rest of our team are dedicated to helping patients maintain healthy smiles through every life circumstance at our Houston, TX office. In this week’s blog post, we cover some of the oral health issues associated with pregnancy and what you can do to keep you, your little one, and your teeth healthy.
Carrying and Caries
According to archaeologists, fertile and pregnant women have been dealing with especially persistent tooth decay for over 10,000 years. There are a few reasons why pregnant women get more cavities, including:
· Dietary changes. The sweet tooth or pickle cravings you develop during pregnancy might be just what your baby wants, but they’re not good for your teeth. Bacteria feed on sugary, sticky foods and acidic snacks can wear down your enamel. While we know that there’s often no arguing with pregnancy cravings, be sure to rinse your mouth with water after you have potentially harmful snacks and brush your teeth at least twice a day.
· Female hormones. Producing a lot of estrogen has been shown to increase your risk for cavities.
· Saliva changes. You might not realize it, but your spit is one of your body’s most effective defenses against decay. In addition to acting as an all-natural mouthwash, your saliva includes enzymes that help break down debris and fight decay-causing bacteria. During pregnancy, the chemical composition of your saliva changes and many women experience dry mouth, allowing caries to develop more easily. Making sure you stay hydrated can help reduce your risks.
· Morning sickness. Some women experience nausea, acid reflux, and vomiting during pregnancy. In addition to interfering with your daily life, morning sickness can bring harmful stomach acids into your mouth, eroding your teeth. If you vomit or suffer from acid reflux, you should rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash immediately, but wait at least an hour to brush your teeth, since the rough bristles combined with the acidic residue could actually hurt your teeth.
The Dangers of Gum Disease
As if battling decay wasn’t enough, hormonal changes during pregnancy can also increase your risk for gum disease. Expectant women produce more progesterone, which can make your system more sensitive to infection and prevent your body from killing bacteria as easily.40 percent of pregnant women develop gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease that can cause swollen, bleeding gums. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can become periodontitis, more severe gum disease that creates pockets of infection around your teeth. Since this infection can spread throughout your body, periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. If you notice bleeding during flossing, a foul taste in your motuh, pockets around your teeth, inflammation, or any other symptoms of gum disease, contact our Houston, TX office so we can prevent infection from spreading. Flossing at least once per day and using mouthwash can reduce your risk for gum disease during pregnancy.
Don’t Skip Your Appointments
Many people assume that pregnant women shouldn’t go to the dentist, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Given your increased for decay and gum disease, it’s even more important to attend regular cleanings and exams during your pregnancy. These appointments allow our dentists to check your teeth for signs of decay and monitor your gum health to catch any oral health conditions before they worsen. Pregnant women should typically avoid x-rays, but if you need them to diagnose and treat an emergency dental condition, our digital x-ray device reduces radiation exposure by 75 percent.
Beam for Your Baby
Your pregnancy is worth smiling about. To ensure that you and your baby remain healthy, understand your dental risks, keep up with your dental hygiene, and attend your regular dentist visits. Contact Craig Armstrong, D.D.S. today to learn more about oral health during pregnancy or schedule an appointment.