Oral Health and Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a unique and beautiful time for a woman’s body and mind. During pregnancy, many complex physiological changes occur in order to provide both mom and baby with the necessary nutrients that are needed throughout the nine months of development. Oral health during pregnancy is a topic not often addressed but, due to the varying changes that occur internally, must also be prioritized. Your dentist in Jacksonville, Dr. Rachel Monteiro is a mom herself, and understands the challenges of pregnancy. She has the training and knowledge to help you maintain excellent oral health during your pregnancy.
Common oral health concerns during pregnancy
1) Pregnancy gingivitis: Hormonal changes cause the gums to swell and bleed more frequently. Swelling makes it easier for food particles to get stuck in hard-to-reach areas which can lead to more build up than usual. In order to ensure the health of your gums and avoid long-term gingivitis or its progression to periodontal disease, your dentist may be proactive and request to change your hygiene schedule from the typical six months to more frequent visits.
2) Pregnancy tumors: These overgrowths of tissue look like small raspberries located on the gums and may be related to excess plaque. They are more commonly experienced during the second trimester and typically go away after the baby is born. If they become bothersome or concerning, they can be removed by a periodontist (the gum specialist).
3) Morning sickness and stomach acid: Vomiting or reflux caused by morning sickness can expose teeth to large amounts of acids which can lead to decay or erosion. A good way to prevent the acid from disturbing your teeth is to swish and spit with water after vomiting and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing. By waiting this time before brushing you are allowing the tooth’s enamel to recover from the “acid attack” and are stopping yourself from just rubbing the acid throughout your mouth.
4) Food cravings: Sweet and sugary snacks may be more tempting to reach for but also create an increased risk for cavities. While these delicious snacks are hard to avoid, especially when baby wants a taste too, it is important to remove the remaining sugar from your mouth. We suggest you rinse your mouth with tap water between snack sessions to ensure that the sugar is not sitting on the teeth the whole day. As usual, it is important to brush at least two times a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride and floss once a day to maintain a healthy routine.
A healthy smile for mom means a healthy smile for baby
It is crucial to remember that anything that affects mom is her affecting baby’s health too. For example, periodontal disease in the mother is associated with low birth weight and prematurity. If the mother (or any other family member) has many cavities and kisses her baby on the lips or shares utensils, the cavity causing bacteria from the adult will be passed on to the baby, potentially resulting in a condition called early childhood caries.
According to the American Dental Association, preventative, diagnostic, and restorative dental treatments can still be performed during pregnancy. At River Oaks Dental we want to help you have a healthy pregnancy by addressing and eliminating any oral health concerns. To schedule an appointment call us at 904.348.0416 or visit our website riveroaksdentaljax.com.