When pregnant, most women become highly aware of their health and make very thoughtful decisions regarding what they eat, what they do, and where they go in order to live the healthiest lifestyle for their baby. Whether it is eliminating alcohol and caffeine from their diet, choosing the stairs over the elevator, or practicing forms of self-care throughout their 10-month journey to delivery, pregnant women often become healthier versions of themselves … except when it comes to their dental health.
A recent study showed that nearly half of all American pregnant women skip dental care altogether, including their bi-annual wellness exams. Whether this is out of fear that dental care is not safe for the baby or because they assume any changes to their teeth and gums during pregnancy are normal, skipping the dentist is not a wise choice – especially while pregnant.
Your Teeth and Your Pregnancy
It is true. A lot of changes happen to your body when pregnant, and this is actually very evident in the mouth. During pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume increases by more than 50% to support the uterus. Because the blood vessels in the mouth are so small and the gums are so thin, this excess in the blood can cause the gums to become inflamed, swollen, tender, and even bleed.
These changes are expected, and many women will ignore these changes – even as they spit out a mouth full of blood every time they brush their teeth. The concern, however, is that many of these changes are actually symptoms of gingivitis.
As your gums become more inflamed and swollen, gingivitis can become severe enough to progress to other oral diseases such as periodontitis and bacteremia (a condition that allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream). If ignored, this bacteria will affect the uterus and the baby, and in some cases, can trigger pre-term birth.
Never Neglect the Dentist
The hardest challenge is educating parents-to-be about the importance of continued dental care. While the worst-case scenario (mentioned above) can happen, with dental intervention and care it is unlikely that your bleeding gums will become anything more than an annoyance.
Unless specifically advised by an obstetrician, pregnant women should continue seeing their dentist for their general and preventive visits. If the gums or teeth become tender, swollen, or do start to bleed – consulting a professional is the best choice for preventing the worst outcome.
We Will Care for You
Our dental team at Exceptional Smiles is committed to providing the absolute best care for your teeth. Whether you are expecting a child or you are coming to us as a new patient, you can expect to be treated with professionalism and compassion from the moment you come to our office. New patients can be seen for their first exam, set of x-rays, and cleaning for just $59. We encourage you to schedule an appointment – and remember, there is never a good time to neglect the dentist.