Noticing sensitivity with your teeth or a little pink on your toothbrush now that you’re pregnant?
In my experience as a certified dental assistant, and a mother, I was often asked, “Why are my gums bleeding now that I am pregnant?”
“Why are my teeth more sensitive during my pregnancy?”
“Is it safe to see my dentist during my pregnancy?”
Pregnancy Hormones and Dental Health
It is important to remember that your body is going through a lot of changes right now. Your hormones are a huge contributing factor. Believe it or not, the extra estrogen and progesterone that your body is producing cause an increase in the blood flow to your mucus membranes. (This can even cause a runny nose).
Higher levels of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy can make women more susceptible to gum disease and poor gum health. Progesterone encourages blood vessel dilation during pregnancy, making gums more vulnerable to bacteria.
During your pregnancy, you will produce more estrogen than you will in your entire non-pregnant life. Estrogen at levels of this magnitude can cause “pregnancy gingivitis” or sore, tender gums that bleed easily.
Although bleeding may occur when brushing or flossing, you should still continue cleaning your teeth a minimum of two times daily with a soft-head toothbrush, and keep your routine appointments with your dentist and hygienist.
Do my eating habits (and cravings) affect my dental health?
Your appetite is changing, and so are your eating habits. Those extra carbs, sweets, and cravings very well may be the culprit putting you at greater risk for cavities. Many expectant mothers also experience toothpaste aversion, acid reflux and morning sickness. Your body is producing less saliva which is necessary to keep your mouth healthy. During pregnancy your saliva is much more acidic, which potentially causes its own issues with your oral health.
Why is dental care so important during my pregnancy?
According to dentalhealth.org, approximately 45% of premature births and low birth weights in newborns have been linked to gum disease in pregnant women.
About 75% of pregnant women have gingivitis, which can lead to periodontal disease and teeth loss.
The CDC also states children of mothers with untreated cavities or tooth loss are three times more likely to develop cavities as an adult, and children with poor oral health are three times more likely to miss school due to dental pain.
So what is a safe way to keep my mouth happy and healthy throughout my pregnancy?
Here are a few simple steps you can take to keep yourself from experiencing dental pain and increased sensitivity during pregnancy:
- Practice good hygiene: Brush your teeth twice daily, and floss at least once a day, (using mouthwash is a great way to help with hard to reach areas.)
- Baking Soda Rinse: If you are still coping with morning sickness, rinsing with 1 tsp of baking soda and a glass of water will reduce acids and help protect your enamel.
- Limit Sugars: Everything is better in moderation, be sure to rinse after your sugary or carb rich snacks.
- Take your prenatal vitamins: Prenatal Vitamins contain vitamin C which is great for gum health. Calcium will keep your teeth and bones strong.
- Visit your dentist: It is absolutely safe to see your dentist while you are pregnant. Make sure they know you are expecting! Often your dentist will want to consult with your OB/GYN before proceeding, if major treatment is needed.
Keeping your mouth healthy will be a great benefit to you, your pregnancy, and your baby. Proper oral hygiene is a wonderful gift to pass on to your new little one!
By: Alisha Vought, Certified Dental Assistant