3 Ways Being Pregnant Can Affect Your Oral Health

28 January 2016
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


Congratulations, you're going to have a baby, but before that, you have a long way to go. It's time to start treating your body right to protect your unborn child. One piece of that puzzle is to protect your oral health, because being pregnant can cause major oral health problems.

Your Risk of Gum Disease and Tumors Increases 

When you become pregnant, your hormones change, and some of these hormonal changes actually affect the health of your gums and can increase the risk of gum disease. This condition is known as pregnancy gingivitis, and about 30 percent of women develop it during pregnancy. Specifically, it is the increased levels of progesterone in your body that promote the growth of bacteria in the mouth. It's important to practice good oral hygiene to help prevent this condition because it can affect your baby. Studies have shown a correlation between pregnancy gum disease and premature birth and low birth weight.

If you do develop pregnancy gum disease, you have a greater chance of developing another condition known as pregnancy tumors or pyogenic granuloma. These tumors are usually caused by the same factors that cause gum disease: poor oral hygiene, irritation from bacteria and hormonal changes. While pyogenic granuloma tumors are more common in children and young adults, they can appear in pregnant women on the gums as small, red growths. Luckily, pregnancy tumors are rare, only occurring in 1 to 5 percent of pregnant women. Even better, they are non-carcinogenic, which means they aren't dangerous, but they can bleed profusely.

You Lose Important Vitamins and Minerals

Your unborn baby relies on you to give it all the vitamins, minerals and energy it needs to grow into a healthy baby. However, if you are not consuming enough vitamins and minerals for you and your baby, your baby is going to take what it needs first and leave little or none for you, which can increase the risk of tooth decay. This is why it's extremely important to eat a well-balanced diet during your pregnancy. While you may crave nothing but sweets, it's best to stick with a healthy diet of foods rich in vitamins, protein, and calcium and phosphorous.  

Choosing to follow this healthy diet will also help your baby's oral health. Your baby won't have a pearly set of white teeth immediate after being born, but the teeth do develop during pregnancy. They just don't start to erupt until after birth. By eight weeks, your baby has developed all the tooth buds for the primary teeth, and by twenty weeks, the tooth buds for the permanent teeth have already started to develop. Eating a healthy diet and taking prenatal vitamins will start your child off with healthy teeth as they are being formed.

If You Experience Morning Sickness, You May Destroy Your Enamel

It seems like whenever you watch a movie or show with a pregnant woman, she's running to the bathroom with nausea. That's because morning sickness is common, and about 80 percent of pregnant women experience it. Despite the name, morning sickness can happen at any time. It isn't usually dangerous to your baby, unless it is chronic, but it can damage your enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay.

When you vomit, stomach acid coats your teeth, which is deadly to enamel. Knowing this, you may be urged to brush your teeth immediately after vomiting, but you should never brush right after vomiting. With the acid on your teeth, the brushing motion can actually accelerate the deterioration, causing the enamel to decay faster. If you suffer from morning sickness, simply rinse your mouth with water to help remove the acid. You can gently place some fluoride toothpaste on your teeth with your finger or rinse with an alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash. Wait about an hour after you vomited to actually brush your teeth.

A lot of work goes into taking care of yourself and your unborn baby when you're pregnant, but don't neglect your oral health. If you would like more information on how to protect your oral health and the health of your baby during pregnancy, contact a dentist in your area, such as those at NEO Kids Dentistry, today.