How to Take Care of Your Teeth Before, During, and After Pregnancy
Everyone knows that pregnancy can cause hormonal changes. That’s why pregnant women often crave foods they’ve never liked before, like pickles, fruit juice or ice cream. But those changing hormones, like an increase in progesterone, can also raise your risk of developing gum disease, which can hurt your baby’s health.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, book a dental checkup. The dentist will examine your gum tissue, clean your teeth and catch any dental problems you might need to treat before you get pregnant.
If you’re heading to the dentist while pregnant, be sure to inform your dentist, and check with your primary care doctor in case there are special precautions you need to take. For example, if you’re having frequent bouts of morning sickness, your dentist might advise you to rinse your mouth after your bout of sickness. And if you can’t handle the taste of your regular toothpaste, your dentist might recommend a blander option.
Your dentist may also want to X-ray your teeth. Don’t worry! That’s totally safe, although the dentist should cover your belly with two lead aprons. But while getting routine dental care is recommended while pregnant, any elective dental procedures should wait until after the baby is born. If you’re planning a pregnancy, try to schedule all your serious dental procedures before your pregnancy begins.
Know the signs of gum disease
Even if you’ve always had healthy gums, being pregnant comes with an increased risk of gum disease. At least 40 percent of pregnant women develop gingivitis during pregnancy, and one study found that pregnant women with chronic gum disease were more likely to give birth prematurely.
Monitor your gums for swelling, bleeding or soreness, and report any of those issues to your dentist as soon as possible. That could be signs of gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, gingivitis could turn into periodontitis, otherwise known as gum disease, which can result in tooth loss and bone damage.
Treatment for gingivitis usually begins with a dental cleaning to remove plaque, tartar and bacteria from the mouth. Treatment for gum disease could involve antibiotics and in severe cases, removal of gum tissue. The most important thing is catching problems early, which is why regular dental visits are so crucial.
Know how to handle a pregnancy abscess
One thing to be on the lookout for is pregnancy abscesses, which often occur in the second trimester, most commonly to women who have pregnancy gingivitis. That’s an uncomfortable lump with pinpoint markings that can form on irritated gum tissue, which can make eating or speaking difficult.
This growth is the body’s reaction to some irritation, like trapped particles of food. After giving birth, the abscess usually disappears, but it can also be medically removed by a dentist under local anesthesia. Sometimes, these abscess can reappear.
And of course, now more than ever is the time to take consistent, regular care of your teeth. Follow the usual oral hygiene plan: avoid sugary foods, eat a healthy diet, brush twice a day, floss once a day, use an antimicrobial mouthwash and get a professional cleaning every six months.
Also, make sure you’re eating enough protein and dairy for your baby’s own gums, teeth and bones to develop properly. After giving birth, it would be worthwhile to have your dentist do a full oral checkup, especially due to the hormone changes that can affect you.