It’s vital for pregnant women to take care of their teeth and gums during pregnancy because a mother’s oral health directly affects her baby. However during the nine months of gestation, it’s common for mothers to experience a decline in their oral health. Understanding how pregnancy affects oral health can help pregnant women avoid complications so that their babies are born as healthy as possible.
Exhaustion is a major contributor to the decline of women’s oral health during pregnancy. Because their bodies are on overdrive from making constant adjustments for the baby’s growth, women forget to brush twice daily and floss at least once daily. The more frequent women forget, the more plaque and bacteria builds-up–leading to tooth decay.
Hormonal changes also contribute to the decline of women’s oral health during pregnancy. During this time, hormonal imbalances can put women at risk of developing pregnancy gingivitis, which is when gum inflammation causes irritation and bleeding. The longer gingivitis is left untreated, the more likely it will lead to periodontitis, which is a more severe gum disease that leads to bone loss. Studies may have evidence that connects gingivitis to premature birth and low birthweight.
Morning sickness can also cause oral health problems. The amount of stomach acid that enters the mouth as women vomit eventually weakens tooth enamel, which puts pregnant women at risk of developing cavities.
Lastly, frequent snacking constantly puts teeth in contact with acid that also weakens tooth enamel over time.
When women experience an overflow of bacteria growth in their mouth during pregnancy, bacteria enters the bloodstream via the gums and flows to the uterus. Once bacteria reaches the uterus, prostaglandins form, which are chemicals suspected to cause premature labor.
Once babies are born, mothers may still pass bacteria to their newborns via vertical transmission. The more bacteria mothers have in their mouths, the more bacteria they’re able to pass onto their newborns.
In order for pregnant women to keep their teeth and gums as healthy as possible, they should brush twice daily with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once daily. Pregnant women should also eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Snacking should only be done in moderation if possible. Lastly, it’s essential that pregnant women maintain their annual dental checkups so that their dentist can assess their teeth and gums and create a practical plan for them to follow for the duration of their pregnancies.
At McBride Dental, we provide our patients with preventative care services to keep their teeth and gums healthy. We thoroughly assess the mouth to check for cavities, gum disease, and any other oral complications. We offer treatment based on our patients’ needs, which include gum disease treatment, dental sealants, fillings, dentures, implants, and more. We also offer cosmetic services for patients who want to enhance their teeth. If you are in the San Diego area and would like to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today at (760) 471-1003.