During pregnancy, hormonal and behavioral changes can impact your mouth. It is important to be aware of these changes in order to protect your teeth and oral health.
Swollen, Red and/or Bleeding Gums – Pregnancy Gingivitis
- Hormonal changes can make your gums more sensitive to the bacteria found in plaque, leading to swollen, red and bleeding gums. This is known as Pregnancy Gingivitis
What to do: Make sure you have an excellent home care routine for your mouth and check with your dentist to see if you might need more frequent cleanings
- Many pregnant women find that cravings or nausea lead to changes in their normal diet
- Frequent snacking (even on saltines) can increase risk for tooth decay
- If you find that you are eating more sweets and carbohydrates, such as crackers, granola, cereal, etc., you may be at in increased risk for developing cavities
What to do: Make sure you have a home care routine that consists of brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Try to brush after each meal and especially before going to bed. Clean between your teeth daily with dental floss. Rinse daily with a fluoride-containing mouthwash. Try to stick to snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of water between meals.
- The protective enamel on your teeth can be worn down as a result of increased acid from morning sickness, vomiting, nausea, or acid reflux
What to do: Avoid brushing right after vomiting, instead rinse your mouth with water or 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed in water to neutralize the acid in your mouth then wait about 30 minutes before brushing – fluoride is also useful in protecting and repairing your enamel, so talk to your dentist about a fluoride varnish treatment if you are concerned about the frequency of vomiting
Unusal Growth or Swelling in the Mouth – Pregnancy Tumors
- These benign growths (called “pyogenic granulomas”) are most often found on the gums and are a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy
What to do: If you notice a growth or swelling in your mouth that you did not have before, you should immediately see your dentist to rule out a more serious problem – however, if you do have a pregnancy tumor, your dentist can typically monitor it, as these growths normally resolve following the birth of your baby
- This condition is similar to gingivitis and causes swollen, red and bleeding gums, however it is more severe and can cause bone loss around your teeth
- Recent studies show that there is an association between periodontitis and pre-term, low birthweight babies as well as preeclampsia
What to do: If you are already receiving care for this condition, continue to see your dentist regularly – If you notice symptoms worsening, see your dentist for an examination. Your dentist will provide you with deeper cleanings to bring your gums back to health and avoid any serious complications.