FAQs about Dental Care During Pregnancy
How does pregnancy affect my oral health?
It’s a myth that a mother’s teeth lose calcium during pregnancy, but you may experience some changes in your oral health. A surge in the hormones estrogen and progesterone correlates to an increase in plaque on your teeth.
How does a build-up of plaque affect me?
Plaque that’s left on teeth can cause gingivitis (red, swollen, tender gums that are more likely to bleed). So-called “pregnancy gingivitis” affects most pregnant women to some degree, and generally begins in the second trimester. If you already have gingivitis, the condition is likely to worsen during pregnancy.
Pregnant women are also at risk for developing pregnancy tumors (inflammatory, benign growths that develop when swollen gums become irritated). Typically, they are left alone and will usually subside after childbirth. But if a tumor is very uncomfortable and interferes with chewing, brushing, or other oral hygiene procedures, we may decide to remove it.
How can I prevent these problems?
Prevent gingivitis by keeping your teeth clean, especially near the gumline. You should brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, and after each meal when possible. You should also floss each day thoroughly. If tooth brushing causes morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water or with anti-plaque and fluoride mouthwashes. Proper nutrition—particularly plenty of vitamins C and B12—will help keep the oral cavity healthy. More frequent dental cleanings will help control plaque and prevent gum problems.
When should I see my dentist?
If you think you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should see a dentist right away. Schedule a check-up and cleaning in your first trimester. We will assess your oral condition and map out a dental plan for the rest of your pregnancy. We also recommend appointments during the second trimester so that we can monitor oral health changes.
Are there any procedures I should avoid?
Non-emergency procedures generally can be performed throughout pregnancy, but the best time for any dental treatment is the fourth through sixth month. Women in severe pain with a dental emergency can seek treatment at any time but consult with your obstetrician if you require anesthesia or if prescription medication is needed. Lastly, elective procedures should take place after the baby’s birth.