Are you pregnant and experiencing a toothache? Dental can rise during pregnancy and affect your overall health and your baby. Changes in your body during pregnancy can promote disease in your teeth and gums. If you have a toothache or other dental problems during pregnancy, treatment is essential to maintaining good health and keeping you and your baby safe. What dental problems can arise during pregnancy, and how will a dentist treat them?
What Dental Problems Can Occur During Pregnancy?
Dental problems that can occur during pregnancy affect your teeth, gums, and oral tissue. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, oral health concerns during pregnancy may include:
- Tooth erosion
- Oral sores or tumors
- Loose teeth
If pregnancy cravings cause you to eat more sugary foods or drinks or carbohydrates, oral bacteria can turn the sugars into acid that erodes tooth enamel. Your teeth can become sensitive, and cavities can result. Drink plenty of water after consuming sugary foods and drinks.
Morning sickness and gastric acid from your stomach can wear away tooth enamel and lead to tooth erosion. Drink plenty of water and rinse your mouth with a warm baking soda solution to minimize the effects of stomach acid on your teeth.
Oral Sores or Tumors
A heightened inflammatory response or a surplus of progesterone can cause oral sores that grow on your gums, tongue, or palate. The lesions usual grow after the first trimester and resolve after delivery.
Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, about 40 percent of pregnant woman have some form of gum disease. Estrogen and progesterone fluctuations during pregnancy, decreased immune response, and changes in oral flora can promote gum disease. Thoroughly floss daily and brush your teeth twice daily to remove plaque buildup that promotes gum disease.
Periodontitis is advanced disease that affects teeth and the bone that support them. Untreated gingivitis becomes periodontitis, which requires prompt care.
Gum disease can loosen teeth but so can increased progesterone and estrogen levels during pregnancy. The hormonal imbalance can loosen the ligaments that support teeth.
What Is the Best Time to Get Dental Treatment During Pregnancy?
If you must get dental care during pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association recommends waiting until the second trimester. It will be challenging to lie on your back for dental treatment during the third trimester, and the discomfort can increase the risk of premature labor.
What Dental Issues May Arise During Pregnancy?
Maintain your routine dental exams and cleanings during pregnancy to deter plaque buildup and detect signs of cavities or gum disease. If you have no dental concerns, you can delay routine x-rays until after your delivery. Some dental problems may require an x-ray for accurate diagnosis. The American Dental Association says that although the radiation from dental x-rays is low, your dental team will protect your throat with a leaded collar and your abdomen with a leaded apron.
Dental issues that may arise during pregnancy include:
- Cavities – Your dentist will remove tooth decay and fill the cavities to prevent them from spreading and becoming a painful toothache that requires root canal treatment.
- Tooth erosion – After identifying the cause of tooth erosion, your dentist will recommend treatment.
- Oral sores or tumors – Painless tumors that do not interfere with chewing, bleed, or cause other symptoms may not require treatment. They often recede after delivery.
- Gingivitis – You may need root planing and scaling (deep cleaning) to remove plaque from your tooth roots and smooth them.
- Periodontitis – Gum disease treatment is essential to prevent infection from spreading to other teeth, your jawbone, and into your bloodstream. Your dentist may provide treatment or refer you to a periodontist (gum specialist).
- Loose teeth – If hormonal imbalance affects your tooth ligaments, your dentist will reassure you that the issue will resolve after your delivery. If periodontitis is loosening your teeth, you will need gum disease treatment.
Can You Get Teeth Whitening During Pregnancy?
It is wise to postpone teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, dental implants, and other elective procedures while you are pregnant. Waiting until you deliver will prevent you from exposing your baby to unnecessary risks.
How Can You Prevent a Dental Emergency During Pregnancy?
You can help prevent a dental emergency during pregnancy with these steps:
- Maintain regular cleaning and exams from your dentist
- Limit sugary snacks and drinks
- Eat nutritious food
- Floss between your teeth daily
- Brush your teeth daily
- Do not delay an appointment with your dentist if you have unusual signs or symptoms in your teeth, gums, or oral tissue
Hormonal imbalance and reduced immune response during pregnancy can cause concerns with your teeth and gums. Prompt treatment can prevent issues from becoming a dental emergency. Although the second trimester is the ideal time to get dental care, do not ignore signs or symptoms that threaten your oral health.
Vancouver, Washington dentist, Dr. Mo Saleh, sponsors this post.