Congratulations on your new baby! After finding out you are pregnant, you may be eager to know how to best take care of yourself for your growing baby. Most expectant mothers are already familiar with the recommendation to take pre-natal vitamins, avoid coloring their hair and alcohol, and to anticipate some food aversions, but they may be unfamiliar with the importance of their oral health during their pregnancy.
The hormonal changes of pregnancy can cause the following:
- Acid erosion of the enamel due to vomiting
- Increased inflammation and bleeding of the gums
- “Pregnancy tumor” of the gums. Non-cancerous bulbous overgrowth of the gingiva that may cause discomfort and bleeding
Unhealthy oral conditions that can affect the health of the baby:
- Undiagnosed or untreated dental abscess. Bacteria from dental abscesses can cross the placenta and cause stillbirths in rare circumstances
- Untreated periodontal disease. Periodontal bacteria is connected to pre-term birth and lower birth weight
Dr. Ewell’s number one piece of advice is to schedule a check up during your pregnancy – the sooner the better. While pregnant, your body goes through significant hormonal changes that can affect your gums and the enamel of your teeth. You may notice during your pregnancy that your gums are more prone to bleeding when you brush or floss – this extra inflammation of the gums is a result of hormone changes and means you should stay up to date of your professional cleanings. Morning (or rather, all-day) sickness with vomiting leaves the enamel prone to acid erosion. Dr. Ewell recommends rinsing with water after vomiting instead of brushing your teeth right away to rinse that stomach acid off your teeth first. We also strongly suggest our pregnant patients use a prescription grade toothpaste, called Prevident, if they are prone to vomiting several times a day to keep their teeth strong.
You may find that frequent snacking is helpful to keep your nausea at a minimum. If you find that you need to snack around the clock, particularly during the night, we recommend brushing your teeth more frequently and before heading back to sleep again. Frequent snacking leaves teeth more prone to cavities; more frequent brushing can help keep your teeth healthy.
Dental emergencies due to abscesses, infection or untreated periodontal (gum) disease can potentially be dangerous to your unborn baby. Bacteria from dental infections can enter the mother’s bloodstream and has been found in the cord blood. This crossover of oral bacteria to the baby has been connected with pre-term birth, low birth weight, and in rare situations, stillbirth.
During your check-up, Dr. Ewell can advise you in your unique situation and can help you protect your gums and teeth.
It is safe to see the dentist during pregnancy
Your dental check-up may take place at any time during your pregnancy, but preferably the earlier the better. We want to help you protect your gums, teeth, and minimize any extra risk to the baby that may stem from undiagnosed and untreated abscesses or gum disease. The American Dental Association has stated that dental treatment “is safe throughout pregnancy.” If dental treatment is necessary, Dr. Ewell is trained to be thoughtful and safe when determining the necessity of dental x-rays and in the administration of pregnancy-safe local anesthetic and prescriptions.
It is best to make sure you will not experience a dental emergency later during pregnancy by coming in for a regular check-up earlier in your pregnancy and maintaining your professional cleaning intervals. We believe in prevention and catching dental issues early!
To schedule your regular check-up, give us a call at (623) 889-6000.