Pregnancy is both an exciting and challenging time! During your pregnancy, you want to take the best care of your body and your child possible. Unfortunately, many pregnant women tend to neglect their oral health because of all the other worries they have during their pregnancy. However, this is the time that taking care of your oral health is the most important!
Due to hormone changes in body, pregnant women experience a variety of oral health concerns. These usually become evident in the second month of pregnancy and continue until delivery. What changes does your mouth experience during your pregnancy?
Increased Risk for Gingivitis
Two hormones have been noted to be responsible for the oral health changes you experience during pregnancy—these are estrogen and progesterone. The increased levels of these hormones can lead to an increased risk for gingivitis. This is because these hormones cause your body to react more aggressively to the plaque that exists in your mouth, creating inflammation and symptoms of gum disease.
Getting checkups during your pregnancy is essential. Research shows that pregnant women who have gingivitis are more likely to give birth to premature babies as well as babies with a low birth weight. Although a dental checkup feels like the last thing on your list, it’s essential to keep your teeth healthy during pregnancy!
Many women experience some nausea during pregnancy, although only half experience vomiting. Changes in your oral bacteria in addition to morning sickness can cause increased acidity in your mouth, which can damage your tooth enamel. Your mouth is exposed to gastric acid if you experience morning sickness, which can cause enamel erosion.
If you do experience morning sickness during your pregnancy, rinsing with water afterwards can help. Water with a bit of baking soda is even better, as this can help to neutralize the acid. However, never brush after vomiting! The acid can cause your enamel to weaken, making it easy to brush away. Wait a minimum of 30 minutes before brushing if you vomit.
More Prone to Cavities
As a result of enamel damage, increased acidity in the mouth, and pregnancy cravings, pregnant women can be more prone to cavities. This is also true because of the lack of attention women give to their teeth during pregnancy. Your body nourishes your baby, so taking the best care of yourself is essential! Your dentist can help you determine if you have any cavities or if you’re enamel is getting damaged.
Benign Oral Tumors
Up to 5% of pregnant women experience benign oral tumors during pregnancy. These tumors or lesions can be up to 2cm in width and are usually on the outside of the gums. These lesions are a result of the hormonal imbalances that women experience during pregnancy. Although relatively harmless, you may need treatment for these benign tumors if they are painful or bleeding. Otherwise, they tend to go away after you have your baby.
It’s best if you can visit the dentist to address any oral health problems before conceiving, as pregnancy can often make existing oral health conditions worse! Aim to visit your dentist at least once during your pregnancy, particularly after the second month, as this is usually when most women notice problems. And as always, visit your dentist if you’re experiencing any pain or notice any changes in your oral health!