Posted on January 6, 2023 | Hot Topics
Being pregnant can be one of the most magical times for a family. They spend days dreaming about what their child might look like, choosing a name, and gathering all the things they need to welcome their new little one into the world.
While pregnancy can be a very exciting time, it can also bring on some fears and anxieties. People fear visiting the dentist regularly, let alone when they’re pregnant. But it’s so important to remember that oral health is particularly important for expectant mothers and can have a direct impact on the health of both the mother and baby. While this isn’t typically discussed during the many OB-GYN visits during pregnancy, it is something that should be of utmost importance.
Maintaining Good Oral Health During Pregnancy
Pregnancy can cause immune and hormonal changes making a woman more susceptible to pregnancy gingivitis and teeth sensitivity. This is actually far more common than one might expect. It impacts roughly 60-75 percent of pregnant women.
In fact, during pregnancy gum disease can have a variety of adverse effects ranging from low birth weights, to premature births. About 10 percent of babies are born early annually in the United States, and preterm babies can experience both short-term and long-term health problems. Poor oral health can also increase the mother’s risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, a potentially fatal pregnancy complication.
Maintaining good oral health can be very challenging during pregnancy for a few reasons. Food cravings alone can lead to unhealthy dietary choices. Extra sugar provides fuel to harmful oral bacteria which can result in cavities, gum disease, and overall health consequences.
Morning sickness can also prove to be a problem by prompting pregnant women to avoid brushing their teeth due to nausea, or the actual vomiting which releases eroding gastric acids. Teeth can be damaged by the acid from the vomit, especially in the upper front areas. Brushing immediately after vomiting could actually cause even more erosion or damage because the teeth are most vulnerable then.
Instead of brushing immediately, try rinsing with warm water and waiting a little bit before brushing. Getting proper guidance from your dentist can help you understand safe and appropriate maintenance during pregnancy so that you can avoid issues of irreversible damage to your oral and overall health.
Oral health also extends to your airway health and breathing. Women who report symptoms of sleep disordered breathing during pregnancy, such as snoring, may be at increased risk for cesarean delivery, preeclampsia and babies born with smaller birth weight. A sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) involves the stopping and starting of breathing. This tends to get worse during pregnancy due to weight gain and the baby pushing against the diaphragm. This condition limits the amount of oxygen in the body, which can have detrimental effect on a mother and her developing baby.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe While Pregnant?
Maintaining good oral health during pregnancy may include x-rays. The idea of getting x-rays can be scary, especially when you’ve heard over and over that radiation can be dangerous to an unborn baby. Let’s put that at ease. Getting dental x-rays while pregnant is safe because they emit a very low amount of radiation, not the high emission levels that could harm your baby. We also use the heavy lead apron to protect your vital organs, including your baby, during the brief exposure to the very low levels of radiation.
While x-rays are deemed medically safe in any trimester, many women feel most comfortable getting them after the end of the first trimester through the first half of the third trimester. No matter your thoughts or concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist about getting dental work while pregnant.
Oral Health and Fertility
Did you know that it’s just as important for both men and women to have healthy teeth and gums before conceiving as it is for a woman to protect her oral health while she’s pregnant?
While it may seem easy to assume that there is no connection to gum disease and conceiving, the reality is that it could stop you from getting pregnant. Excessive bacteria in the mouth, which can enter the bloodstream as well as contribute to tooth decay and infections, may affect fertility in women trying to get pregnant along with lowering a man’s sperm count and sperm motility.
It may seem silly but good health starts in the mouth. Expecting mothers should not ignore their oral health – their babies will thank them later!
When Do Babies Go To The Dentist?
Believe it or not, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child have their first dental visit no later than age one. Building a strong foundation for good oral health and showing them that a dental visit can be fun is best started at a young age.
Whether you are trying to become pregnant, are currently pregnant, or have a new little one, Blossom Dental is here for you. Call (734) 971-3368 to schedule an appointment or talk to our team about any concerns you may have.
We love Blossom Pediatric Dentistry! I have twin 11 year old boys, who have had previous major anxiety about the dentist. Not with Dr. Barber. She has an amazing bedside manner...
- Lauren Sherick, Mother of Patient
We had an amazing experience at our first visit at Blossom Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics. Dr. Barber and her entire staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and excellent with children.
- Mother of Patient