When you find out you’re pregnant, there are so many emotions that rush over you at once. And then, in their place, comes the list of “to dos” that must happen in the quickly-ticking-away nine months. From vitamins to morning sickness to building cribs and finding car seats, your oral care is probably not on the forefront on your mind!
Juggling prenatal appointments and trying to save up leave for the baby can, frankly, provide a pretty seemingly-good excuse to push your visit to the dentist in Arlington off for another six months or a year. Also, the internet is full of opinions on whether dental exams and x-rays are safe during this time. If you have a more severe dental issues like needing a root canal or cavity filled, can those even be done while you’re pregnant?
Here at Dr. Marchbanks’ office, the last thing we want you to do is stress about one more thing in this already busy, health-conscious time. However, due to changes in hormones and blood supply during a pregnancy, it is important to continue your visits to the dentist as well as practice your best oral health.
Consider this article your one-stop-shop for all this and more during your pregnancy!
Problem: I can’t even look at my toothbrush!
Many times, before you’re even able to share the big new of your pregnancy, you’re hit hard by morning sickness (or, for anyone who’s been there, all-day sickness). While you might assume strong smells or an empty stomach are the reason for the sickness, many pregnant women report that “just the sight” of their toothbrush can bring on a gag-like reflex. The feeling of the need to vomit while brushing your teeth can be caused by excess saliva in the mouth, the strong flavors of the toothpaste, and even just the movement of the brush in the mouth.
Solution: While you might just want to avoid brushing your teeth at all costs, we know that’s a bad idea! To overcome this, try breathing through your mouth while brushing. Keep the muscles of your mouth along with your mind as relaxed as possible. If nausea develops, try to stay relaxed and hold the sensation back. And avoid using a tooth brush with hard bristles. Thankfully, for most women, this phase will pass by the end of the first trimester.
Pregnancy and overall oral health
Sometime in your nine-month pregnancy you should visit your dentist for a routine cleaning. According to the CDC, 60 to 75% of pregnant women have gingivitis, an early-stage periodontal disease that occurs when the gums become red and swollen (a condition that can become aggravated by changing hormones during pregnancy). At your appointment, make sure to tell your dentist you’re pregnant.
Routine care be done at any point in your pregnancy. Urgent matters that require emergency procedures can also be done, but any cosmetic or elective procedure should wait until after the baby is born.
Oral health is considered an important part of prenatal care, given that poor oral health during pregnancy can lead to poor health outcomes for the mother and baby, including premature delivery and babies with a low birth weight.
If your dentist suggests x-rays, these can be done during pregnancy safely. The dentist will need to take extra precautions to shield your abdomen; however, modern day x-rays are safe and produce much less radiation than older technologies. However, if it’s not an emergency situation, talk to your dentist about concerns you have. Many times, x-rays can be postponed until after delivery. Just don’t do the same with your routine cleaning and oral exam!
Why do my gums bleed so much?
Don’t be alarmed if suddenly your gums become far more sensitive and have a tendency to bleed when you brush or floss. Pregnancy can cause you to experience a whole host of side effects that range from the annoying to the outright bizarre.
While you might not think that caring for your mouth during pregnancy is as important as caring for your growing baby, the truth is that hormones in pregnancy can result in significant change in all parts of your body. Almost half of pregnant women say they have experienced bleeding and swollen gums while pregnant, for example.
Gums become more sensitive during pregnancy due to surging hormones. Not only do these hormones make you feel crazy at times, they also make you more vulnerable to plaque and bacteria getting lodged in your gum line.
Another cause of bleeding gums in pregnancy is a decrease in salvia production. Less salvia means bacteria hang out in the mouth longer instead of being washed away.
Finally, changes in diet (particularly excess carbs when you’re dealing with morning sickness) lend themselves to creating an oral environment that breeds plaque and gum disease.