Oral Health during Pregnancy

Often times during pregnancy, mothers can experience an increased incidence of swelling, redness, and bleeding in their gums, a.k.a. gingiva.  This condition is known as gingivitis and can be attributed to the rise in hormone levels associated with pregnancy. Gingivitis during pregnancy may also be associated with the decrease in oral hygiene (brushing, flossing) during a pregnant mother’s first trimester due to morning sickness and her inability to brush adequately without inducing gagging or vomiting.  Preventive dental cleanings and checkups during pregnancy are not only safe but recommended according to the American Pregnancy Association.  Studies have shown that pregnant mothers with healthy mouths are at a lower risk of having a preterm birth. In other words healthy mothers with healthy mouths equal healthier babies! 

Emergency dental work can be done during pregnancy to reduce the risk of pain and infection. The most ideal time to perform dental work on a pregnant mother is during the second trimester. Because fetal organ development occurs during the first trimester; it is best to avoid all potential risks at this time if possible. If non-emergency dental work is needed during the third trimester, it is usually postponed until after the birth.

X-rays are necessary to diagnose most dental conditions. Routine x-rays on pregnant mothers should be limited to a “need only basis”. Of course, an abdominal lead apron should be used as precaution, but fortunately, according to theAmericanCollegeof Radiology, no single diagnostic x-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the following for all pregnant mothers:

-Eat a well balanced diet.

-Brush regularly and thoroughly at least twice a day for 2 minutes with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste.

-Floss daily.

-Have preventative check-ups and cleanings throughout your pregnancy.

-Postpone non-emergency dental work until the second trimester or until after delivery, if possible.

-All elective procedures should be postponed until after the baby is born.

GUM CHEWING

Gum chewing is a common daily habit.  When purchasing gum, be sure to look for “sugar-free” on the label.  Sugar-free gum can wash away food particles, and neutralize saliva to prevent cavities and plaque.  Some gums include a natural sweetener called Xylitol.  Xylitol is safe for everyone, and dramatically reduces the risk for new tooth decay.  Studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum after eating significantly reduces the incidence of cavities.  You can visit adha.org to learn more about the benefits of sugar-free gum.