Cravings, surging hormones, and morning sickness are a normal part of a healthy woman’s pregnancy. Yet, myths and misconceptions are prevalent. An old-wives’ tale states that for every child a woman has, she loses a tooth. While we don’t see this in our practice, studies have linked pregnancy with an increase in dental problems. So it’s important to understand that the changes brought on by pregnancy such as the increase in estrogen and progesterone can also affect your oral and dental health.
In a study of more than 2500 pregnant women conducted by the New York University College of Dentistry revealed that as the number of children a woman has increases, so does her risk for tooth loss. Researchers also found that the more children a women had, the greater the risk she had of developing periodontal (gum) disease. To add to the issue, another recent 2010 study indicates that women are less likely to visit their dentist during their pregnancy. While losing one tooth per child may be a myth, gaining getting a cavity while you are pregnant may be closer to reality.
What Does Pregnancy Do to My Dental Health?
Glad you asked. As we know, plaque left untreated can lead to gum infections such as gingivitis (tender, red, and swollen gums which easily bleed when disturbed). With a surge in hormones, “pregnancy gingivitis” can occur. While it doesn’t affect every pregnant woman, it can surface in the second month. If you already have gingivitis, it may get worse, which is all the more reason to call us as soon as you find out your pregnant. This way we can come up with a treatment plan that can keep gum disease from ruining what should be a miraculous time for a new parent.
What are pregnancy tumors I keep hearing about?
Sometimes during pregnancy lumps with deep red markings may form on inflamed gum tissue, and appear along the gum line. It occurs most often during the second trimester. These red lumps or “pregnancy tumors” will easily bleed and then crust over making it difficult to eat and talk. The name is misleading and calling these bumps “tumors” has led many women to worry about malignancy. Pregnancy tumors are not cancerous nor can you spread this condition to others. Generally, it occurs in about 10 percent of pregnant woman and usually disappear after the baby’s birth. They are preventable by simply following good oral hygiene practices at home. And don’t forget to keep your dental hygienist appointments as well!
What if brushing my teeth causes morning sickness?
During pregnancy, it’s recommended that you keep your teeth as clean as possible by brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and especially after meals. This can be difficult if you experience cravings or if you snack to quell nausea caused by morning sickness throughout your day. If you have difficulty brushing your teeth in the morning, we suggest at least rinsing your mouth out with water after meals and using an anti-plaque and fluoride mouthwash. Call us at 248-356-8790 and we’ll be glad to schedule an appointment for a thorough dental exam and prescribe a mouthwash that fits your precise dental needs. Of course, following good nutrition is also a must, and especially vitamins C and B12 will help keep your gums healthy. Sometimes we will recommend more frequent hygiene visits or cleanings to help control plaque accumulation and pregnancy related gum disease.
Is there a good time during my pregnancy to see my dentist or hygienist?
At our Southfield dental office we recommend that you call us as soon as you know you are pregnant, preferably within the first trimester. We’ll assess your dental and oral health needs and provide oral health guidance for the rest of your pregnancy, usually hygiene related. Unless you have a painful emergency, we do not perform elective treatment and do not take x-rays on pregnant women. If dental treatment is absolutely necessary, we will limit it to the 2nd trimester when it is safer for the baby.
On behalf of myself and my entire dental team, we look forward to the arrival of your bundle of joy and consider him or her to be an extension of our friendly family dental practice!
That’s all for now,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD