In honor of both Mothers Day and National Womens Health Week, Ive decided to dedicate this post to a womens health issue that will affect most women during their lifetime: oral health during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a very exciting and busy time. A pregnant womans body is undergoing many changes, and the mouth is no exception. In fact, during pregnancy, women are especially susceptible to a number of oral health conditions including:
- Dry Mouth
- Excessive Saliva
Gingivitis & Periodontitis
During pregnancy, the increase in progesterone (hormone) levels in a womans body can exaggerate the way their gums react to the irritants in plaque. This reaction can cause red, puffy, inflamed and even bleeding gums when you brush. According to the American Dental Association, women are especially prone to gingivitis during the second to eighth months of pregnancy.
If left untreated or if treatment is delayed, Gingivitis can turn into a more serious condition known as Periodontitis. While the symptoms of Periodontitis are similar to those of Gingivitis, the effects can be much more serious. These effects include tooth abscesses and tooth loss.
Pregnant women also experience a greater susceptibility to cavities. More frequent eating, especially of sugary or starchy foods is a big contributor to cavities. Also, vomiting caused by morning sickness can cause stomach acid to weaken your tooth enamel leading to an increased risk of cavities.
Effects on the Baby
In recent years, a growing amount of evidence has suggested that the oral health of a pregnant woman can affect the oral health of her unborn child. In particular,some studies have found that Periodontitis during pregnancy can lead to the spread of germs throughout a pregnant womans entire body. These germs can cause her to deliver a premature, low birth weight baby.
In fact, the Texas Department of State Health Services claims that pregnant women who have Periodontitis may be six times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. In addition, these germs can also increase her risk for Diabetes or Preeclampsia (high blood pressure) during pregnancy.
Proper Dental Care During Pregnancy
Luckily, there are some practical measures that a woman can take to minimize the risk of acquiring an oral health condition or creating complications for her unborn child:
- Visit the dentist prior to becoming pregnant for a checkup and to treat any existing dental health issues
- Visit the dentist at least once during your pregnancy for a checkup
- Brush at least twice a day, especially along the gumline
- Floss at least once per day
- Eat a balanced diet, low in starchy or sugary foods
- Use an anti-plaque or anti-tartar toothpaste with fluoride
- Use a small, soft toothbrush
Its important to diligently follow a dental care routine during pregnancy. Following the tips listed above is a great way to reduce your chances of acquiring an oral health condition that can affect not only your own health, but the health of your unborn child as well.
Cory Kemp is the owner of the popular dental marketing website, Dental Heroes, and a DentalPlans.com affiliate.