For most women, pregnancy is filled with both joy and difficulties. While there is certainly something special about carrying and waiting for a child, there is also a great deal of concern involving routine health issues such as dental health. Dental health while you are pregnant can change dramatically due to the hormones in your body. In addition, taking certain steps to protect your dental health during pregnancy can have a positive effect upon not only your health, but the health of your fetus.
How Pregnancy Hormones Affect Your Dental Health
Most expecting women are unaware of just how seriously pregnancy affects their dental health. During pregnancy, hormones such as progesterone and estrogen tend to increase to above normal levels. When these hormones flare up, they tend to influence how gum tissue reacts to plaque. With gum tissue unable to protect itself at ideal levels against plaque build-up, gum conditions like gingivitis tend to develop.
According to the Academy or General Dentistry, it seems that a majority of pregnant women will develop some form of gingivitis while pregnant. Signs of gingivitis include swollen, irritated, and bleeding gums. Rather than allow gingivitis to escalate during pregnancy, it is best to undergo a routine check-up at your dentist.
Morning Sickness and Increased Acidity
It is estimated that about 90% of women experience some level of morning sickness during the first trimester of their pregnancy. Morning sickness not only causes nausea and vomiting, but it also leads to some serious dental problems due to the acidity. Due to the increased acidity, the enamel in the teeth can become worn away. With decreased enamel protection, teeth become more prone to cavities and gums have an increased risk of developing gingivitis.
Is it Safe to Visit the Dentist While Pregnant?
As a pregnant woman, you have numerous concerns about what is safe and unsafe for your baby – and rightly so. A common concern among most women is that visit the dentist may not be safe during pregnancy. Fortunately, visiting the dentist while pregnant is perfectly safe and even positive for both your dental health and for your baby. Since dental health affects the functioning of your body’s organ system, keeping dental health in top shape while pregnant has been found to decrease the risk of early labor.
For women who do decide to regularly visit their dentist while pregnant, it may be best to undergo check-ups and procedures during the first and second trimester of pregnancy. By the third trimester, sitting in a dental chair for a prolonged period of time may become extremely uncomfortable.
Tips for a Positive Dental Visit
Your dental health is just as important as any aspect of your health, which means that getting regular check-ups is necessary. When visiting the dentist while pregnant, it is best to communicate with your dentist regarding your pregnancy. If emergency dental work is needed, it is recommended that you either wait until the second trimester or until the pregnancy is over to maintain your comfort and the safety of the fetus.
Dr. O’Donnell is a local dentist in Centreville VA with experience working pregnant patients. You will be able to ask any questions you have and he will happily address your concerns.