Pregnancy and Dental Health
Being pregnant is a great privilege, and bearing a child into this world is an experience like no other. But before the child arrives, the mother has to go through nine months of pregnancy, and that takes a toll on her health. The baby growing inside the mother's body shares her nutrients and vitamins, and sometimes even usurps some of these from the mother’s body, especially the bones and teeth.
How does pregnancy affect dental health?
The gums and oral tissues have a very healthy blood supply. The growing baby needs that nutrition and one of the ways the baby gets this is through absorbing them from the mother, which takes them away from the mother’s gums. As a result, the mother’s gums become very sensitive and fragile, and therefore very liable to inflammation and infection. These problems are a widespread occurrence for many pregnant women: it's called pregnancy gingivitis. If this condition is not controlled, either through professional intervention or excellent home care, the situation becomes more dangerous. Pregnancy gingivitis can advance to pregnancy periodontitis, which is much more severe since the bone begins to be affected, and the teeth could become mobile, and in severe cases, the situation is irreparable, and extraction is required.
Another common condition that affects the gums of some 5-10% of pregnant women is called pregnancy granuloma. It is a reddish lump that appears on the gums during pregnancy and can be very alarming and scary, in addition to being painful and highly fragile, they bleed often, and sometimes without even touching them. It is important to know that this condition is very benign, and carries no danger at all to mother or child, and 95% of the time, it resolves on its own after the baby is born.
How can the mother take care of her teeth when she is pregnant?
The answer is simple: she should do the same that she does when she's not pregnant, that is brushing twice daily and flossing every night, but with a little more devotion. It's essential not to miss a single time of brushing and flossing, and use toothpaste that is highly rich in fluoride. Some dentists would even recommend using a fluoridated mouthwash on a regular basis, which could significantly help in reducing the inflammation
Another essential practice is to make regular trips to the dentist.
It is a widespread misconception that the anesthesia which the dentist uses is incompatible with pregnancy, and might cause problems to the baby. This could not be farther from the truth: anesthesia has nothing to do with the situation--fear of the dentist is the primary concern. Fear can induce a chemical reaction inside the body that can cause harmful effects to the baby. In the first trimester (The first three months of pregnancy), the fear is that this reaction can cause a miscarriage, and in the last trimester, the concern is that it can cause the woman to go into early labor, which is unacceptable for the mother and baby. The second trimester, however, is safe, since the baby has grown enough that miscarriage is very rare, but not grown enough to make the mother go into labor. That is why dentists encourage pregnant women to schedule a visit in the second trimester, even if the problem is small and insignificant, to prevent it from becoming more severe.
It is important to realize that being pregnant doesn’t mean avoiding the dentist for nine months. Pregnant women and dentists work beautifully together to keep a mother's teeth healthy and her baby safe from harm if she lets her dentist know when she becomes pregnant.
If you're pregnant or considering a pregnancy, please call our office at (623) 362-2550. We’ll give you the very best dental care we can during your pregnancy!