Pregnant women are more prone to cavities due in part to pregnancy cravings, hormonal imbalances and pregnancy-related tooth and gum sensitivity. Many women never even experienced a cavity until they became pregnant. However, if you’re pregnant, you don’t have to live with cavities. You can visit your dentist while pregnant. But, before you go, here are eight things to know:
- Tooth decay:
- Morning sickness:
When you have dental work done matters. During your first trimester, you should schedule a cleaning. If you have a cavity or require other dental work, the best time to do so is the second trimester. During your first trimester cleaning, your dentist will notice any cavities or other abnormalities and look to treat them as soon as you’ve hit your fourth or sixth week of pregnancy.
When you are pregnant, small doses of local anesthesia will not harm your baby. Your dentist wants you to be comfortable while you are having a cavity filled because the less stressed you are, the less stress you’re putting on your future child.
Your dentist may be able to tell if you have cavity without the use of an X-ray machine if the tooth in question is visible when you open wide. Technological advances have made X-rays safer for pregnant women and you will be given a lead apron to wear over your abdomen to protect your unborn child. However, dentists remain cautious of their pregnant patients and only administer X-rays if it is absolutely necessary.
During pregnancy, your hormones are working overtime. Many women develop gingivitis (the earliest stage of gum disease) because their hormones are constantly changing. Pregnancy gingivitis is marked by swelling and tender gums that may bleed upon brushing. The more your gums are swollen, the more room bacteria has to grow on them which could lead to cavities.
Pregnant women have an increased risk for severe tooth decay if cavities are left untreated. When cavities are left to fester in the mouth, they lead to severe tooth decay in which bacteria reaches the inner parts of the tooth where the nerves and blood vessels live (the pulp). The pulp then becomes infected and turns into a painful condition called an abscess.
Pregnancy tumors occur in some women. These are benign tumors that are caused by swelling between the teeth. Pregnancy tumors can stem from plaque buildup on the gums. Generally, these tumors show up during the second trimester and disappear once the baby is born. But, they can be quite cumbersome and your dentist can remove them if necessary just in case they lead to cavities and gum disease.
Morning sickness can cause tooth decay and could lead to cavities. If you do not rinse your mouth out after each bout of morning sickness, residual stomach acid can damage the surface of your teeth. Use water or a fluoride mouthwash, approved by your dentist, as soon as you can following an episode of morning sickness. You should also brush your teeth afterward to ensure you have truly removed all the stomach acid from your mouth.
Stick with a healthy diet that includes food rich in calcium, vitamins A, C and D, and lean proteins. You’ll keep your teeth strong and cavity-free as well and help build strong teeth and bones for your baby. Some women even develop gestational diabetes while expecting if they are not careful of the foods they consume. Stay away from foods that contain excess amounts of sugar like candy and pop. Cola is especially bad for you and is one of the leading causes of cavities. Managing pregnancy cravings can be tough – but remember that your baby is still developing and needs all the help from you it can get.
Do I need to change my oral care routine during pregnancy?
Maintaining good oral hygiene is important whether you are an expectant mom or not. Brushing and flossing must be done daily (brushing twice and flossing once). You should eat a balanced diet (see #8 above).
At Dawson Dental we offer dental care for pregnant women. Please contact us for more information about cavity treatment or to book an appointment. Your baby’s counting on you!