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Oral Care During Pregnancy: Why Should You Inform Your Dentist?

Written by Danica Lacson on October 2, 2018

Why should I tell my dentist I'm pregnant?

Informing your dentist of your condition is imperative to ensure your and your baby's safety. Your dentist can create treatment plans that will be safe for you and your baby and avoid dental procedures that may be harmful for you and your baby.

When undergoing dental treatment during pregnancy, extra caution must be made despite most common dental treatments can safely be performed. Experts recommend treatment of dental problems in the second trimester and early half of the third trimester, but emergency dental procedures should be conducted anytime.

What Dental Problems Should I Look Out For During My Pregnancy?

Tooth Erosion

According to studies, approximately 80 percent of expectant women experience morning sickness. Morning sickness is a pregnancy symptom that involves nausea or vomiting. It usually kicks off at the sixth week of gestation, and despite its name, it can happen any time of the day.

Morning sickness is normal, but it puts a woman’s teeth at higher risk of tooth erosion due to the stomach acids that go along with the vomit. These acids can attach the teeth, resulting in mineral loss of the enamel which can soften and be dissolved.

Tooth Decay

The seemingly unquenchable yearnings for foods or pregnancy cravings can also bring harmful effects to oral health, especially when these desires involve sticky and sweet foods. Such foods can cause tooth decay as bacteria feed on the sugar.

Gum Disease

Aside from cravings, pregnancy may also involve food aversions due to high hormone levels present during the period. Because of this, the body may lack specific nutrients needed to fuel the immune system and help fight bacteria.

Changes in hormonal levels put the expectant woman at higher risk of periodontal diseases like gingivitis. If not given attention, gum diseases can lead to loose teeth or bone loss.

To prevent dental issues during your pregnancy, you should take proper care of oral health. According to reports, women with poor dental health have higher tendency to deliver infants with low birth weight, experience preeclampsia, delivering a pre-term baby or even stillbirth.

Babies with low birth weight or pre-term can suffer complications like developmental and birth abnormalities, asthma, behavioral problems, ear infection, or worse, death.

The existence of Fusobacterium nucleatum, bacteria linked with periodontal disease, was found in an autopsy report and pathogenic finding of a full-term stillbirth at the mother’s placenta and the fetus’ lungs and stomach.

Dysgeusia in Pregnancy

Dysgeusia is a condition wherein you will feel a change in your sense of taste. It is very common among pregnant women, however, it can also occur to those who are undergoing chemotherapy.

For pregnant women, it happens mostly in the first trimester where a sudden change to the taste buds happens due to high estrogen levels. The worst part is that you will even feel a metallic taste even when you are not eating. One would feel a sharp metallic taste or a sour taste.

Luckily, when you entering the second trimester, the hormones decrease slightly so dysgeusia and other pregnancy experiences like morning sickness and unusual cravings subside. Your body would be able to adjust to the changes a little better.

Dealing with Dysgeusia

Although pregnancy can be difficult, there are so many things one can do to make each day tolerable. If you are experiencing dysgeusia, here are some remedies you can try at home as suggested by a well-known senior clinical nutritionist at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

  • Add a little bit of salt. Although salt is not advisable to most pregnant women you can add just a little bit of it when eating sweets like jam or canned fruits. You can also add salt when eating a healthy snack like olives, cheese, and peanut butter.
  • Don’t forget the vinegar. Eating sour-tasting foods can stimulate your salivary production thus it makes you want to eat. Eating is important in your first trimester because this is the time where the fetus needs all the nutrients as it grows inside the womb.
  • Marinate meat products in vinegar, apple cider vinegar or citrus juices. Opt for citrus fruits like oranges during your snacks or drink lemonade after a meal.
  • Eat, eat, and eat. According to Stacey Nelson, eat as much as you can and don’t worry about the intake. Just make sure to opt for healthier foods and snacks. It is best to consult your doctor so you are guided with the dos and don’ts in eating especially during your first trimester.
  • Change your vitamins. The vitamins you are taking may contribute to the metallic taste that may be experienced during dysgeusia. This can be attributed to the lack of absorption of essential nutrients like potassium and iron. Ask your doctor to change your vitamins during the prenatal visit so they can address this problem.
  • Good oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene is very important to decrease the metallic taste. Brush your teeth often and use a tongue scraper if needed. Try gargling with water with a teaspoon of salt or 8 ounces of water with baking soda. It helps neutralize the pH in your mouth to avoid the metallic taste.

What Should I Do To Get Healthier Teeth While Pregnant?

  • Substitute sugary snacks with healthier alternatives. Try to eat healthy foods. If possible, replace sweet cravings with healthier options like apple, cheese, celery and peanut butter. These alternatives are also good for the teeth as they stimulate saliva production needed to fight off bacteria build up.
  • Practice proper oral hygiene. Although pregnant women are more susceptible to gum diseases, gingivitis can usually be treated with the right oral hygiene.
  • Visit your dentist. To ensure that your mouth is in good condition, undergo routine checkup for detection and the right treatments.

Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.

References:

  • https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/pregnancy
  • https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/oral-care-during-pregnancy/four-things-to-know-about-oral-health-and-pregnancy-1014
  • https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/oral-care-during-pregnancy/pregnancy-prenatal-care-and-oral-health
  • https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/dental-care-pregnancy
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