Pregnancy is an exciting time! You’re brainstorming names, decorating the nursery, and your body is getting ready to welcome your little one into the world. And your smile isn’t immune to all the changes that are taking place.
At Beaumont Family Dentistry, we want to help you make sense of the changes and keep your oral health in great shape. Pregnancy actually increases your risk of gum disease and tooth decay, so routine dental exams and cleanings become all the more important. Our expert hygienists are trained to spot the earliest signs of periodontal disease and tooth decay, and they’re aided by state-of-the-art cavity detection technology.
Plus, we’re a family-focused practice! We go the extra mile to ensure you feel like family here. And before you know it, your little one will be coming to see us for their first dental appointment!
Read on to learn about three ways your dental health will be affected by your pregnancy. Then, give us a call at any of our three locations in Lexington, KY.
1. Pregnancy Gingivitis
Hormonal changes — like those that come with menstruation, menopause, and, yes, pregnancy — increase your susceptibility to a mild form of gum disease called gingivitis. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why this is, but it’s commonly thought that increased levels of progesterone make it easier for plaque-causing bacteria to survive and multiply.
Roughly 40 percent of women experience pregnancy gingivitis. And if you are going to experience this infection of the tissue surrounding your teeth, it’s most likely to flare up between your second and eighth months of pregnancy.
The bad news is that left untreated, gingivitis can worsen into an aggressive form of gum disease called periodontitis. And according to the American Academy of Periodontology, studies suggest that women with gum disease may be more prone to birthing complications, such as premature or low-weight births, than women without gum disease.
But there is good news: Gingivitis is easy to spot if you know what to look for, and it’s generally easy to cure.
The symptoms of gum disease include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Gums that bleed when you floss
- Bad breath
- Gumline recession
- Teeth sensitivity
- Loose or shifting teeth
At Beaumont Family Dental, we offer comfortable solutions to gum disease, including non-surgical deep cleaning treatments using ultrasonic scalers — which are more gentle and more effective than traditional hand tools — and a minimally invasive procedure for repairing a receded gumline called the Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique. This procedure involves no surgical cutting or sutures, and most patients only take a day or two to fully heal.
2. Enamel Erosion
Enamel is the hard, outer layer of your teeth that protects them from decay. But unfortunately, when your teeth are exposed to acidic substances — as they are during bouts of morning sickness — the enamel deteriorates. As a result, you’re more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities.
If you’re experiencing morning sickness, remember to maintain your regular brushing and flossing routine — but don’t brush right after a spell of nausea. Brushing your teeth directly afterward can actually just spread the acids over your teeth, making the problem worse.
Instead, the American Dental Association recommends rinsing and spitting a solution of one cup water and one teaspoon of baking soda. Because baking soda is basic (has a high pH), it will help neutralize the acids.
And if you aren’t already, it’s a good idea to start brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and drinking fluoridated water. If your teeth are especially prone to cavities, we may be able to recommend in-office fluoride treatments to strengthen your enamel.
And if all else fails, we’ll help you quickly remove decay and fill cavities with a natural-looking tooth-colored filling.
3. Dry Mouth
Decreased saliva production is extremely common during pregnancy, thanks to hormonal changes. Dry mouth is uncomfortable, yes, but it also increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
That’s because saliva is an important defense against harmful oral bacteria. It helps remove food particles that might otherwise attract bacteria, and it helps wash away plaque (or a film of bacterial buildup). So, it’s important to find other ways to keep your mouth moist.
Here are some ways you can alleviate dry mouth:
- Suck on hard candies (sugar-free, preferably) or chew gum to stimulate saliva production
- Increase your water intake
- Use a humidifier
- Take to your dentist about special rinses or mouthwashes that alleviate dry mouth
Excellent Prenatal Dental Care
If you’re looking for a practice to call your dental home in the next nine months and beyond, consider Beaumont Family Dentistry. Call us at any of our three locations to schedule an appointment, or use our online form to schedule.