Pregnancy changes the way you approach normal life activities like eating, exercise and medical care. It also has an effect on your oral health, and your oral hygiene and dental care routine may need a change during pregnancy as well. Good oral hygiene is always important, but during pregnancy it is especially important because pregnant women have a high risk of gum disease. This is due to hormone fluctuations that can cause gum disease even in women who practice good oral hygiene and have no personal or family history of gum disease.
The culprit in pregnancy-related gum disease is the hormone progesterone. Progesterone is a female hormone that is increased during pregnancy. The increased hormone responds to the presence of plaque on the teeth by triggering irritation and the signs of gum disease even if the amount of plaque on the teeth would not normally cause a problem. A pregnant woman, therefore, can get gum disease with very little plaque on the teeth. Women are also at greater risk of gum disease due to increased progesterone in the days before their menstrual period every month. During pregnancy, the risk is highest between the second and eighth months.
Normal dental visits should continue all through pregnancy. X-rays should be avoided, but routine procedures like teeth cleaning can be performed safely. Because of the increased risk of gum disease, dentists sometimes recommend extra cleanings during pregnancy. It is important to tell your dentist that you are pregnant as soon as possible, and avoid dental work during the first trimester. A routine checkup and cleaning is safe that early, but except in a case of dental emergency, no other dental work should be performed until the second trimester or later when the baby’s major organs have developed.
Diet is important for a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. If a pregnant woman does not get enough calcium, the baby will “borrow” calcium from the mother’s bones. By getting plenty of calcium in the foods she eats, a pregnant woman’s bones are protected and the baby’s bones and teeth are provided enough calcium to develop properly. Vitamins A, D and C are also important. Remember also that satisfying strange pregnancy food cravings is okay, but this is all the more reason to keep up with your oral hygiene routine and see the dentist regularly.
Although dental treatment should be avoided and postponed, if there is pain and a risk of infection then treatment should be performed with supervision of your OBGYN. There are different techniques and anesthetics with lower risks as the baby is always into taken into consideration. For additional questions, speak with your dentist directly to see which options are right for you.