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How pregnancy can affect your dental health

Pregnancy is a time when most moms-to-be try to take better care of their general health, but it is equally important to take extra care with your dental health.

Changes in hormonal levels increase the risk of developing gum disease, and a growing number of studies* have shown a link between periodontal disease (advanced gum disease) and problems during pregnancy. Periodontal disease can increase the risk of a preterm birth or low birth-weight baby, and may be more harmful than smoking or alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

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Preterm-related causes account for 35% of all infant deaths, more than any other single cause. (CDC)

Ideally, try to make an appointment to come and see us at Tswwassen Place Dental before you become pregnant. This will give us the opportunity to professionally clean your teeth and gums, and to thoroughly evaluate your dental health, including your gum health. We can then treat any problems before your pregnancy, and can give you advice on how to look after your teeth during this time.

Dental Care during Pregnancy

Please let us know if you are pregnant or think you might be, as we will avoid all non-essential dental work during the first and second trimesters unless it is an emergency. However it is perfectly safe to receive routine dental care during the second trimester. We only use low-dose digital x-rays that are extremely safe, but even so we will avoid taking x-rays during your pregnancy unless it is an absolute emergency.

If you do need an x-ray then we will take extensive measures to protect your baby. Please tell us if you are taking any medications or vitamins during your pregnancy, as this could affect our treatment plan. It is extremely important that you attend regular check-ups during your pregnancy because of the increased risk of a condition called pregnancy gingivitis.

What is Pregnancy Gingivitis?

Changing hormonal levels increases the sensitivity of the gum tissues to mouth bacteria. This increased sensitivity can lead to inflamed, sore and tender gums which bleed more easily, a condition that is called pregnancy gingivitis. It is important to be aware of any changes to your gums during pregnancy, and to contact us if you notice your gums have begun to bleed. We can treat this condition through professionally cleaning your teeth so all the plaque bacteria are removed. This helps enable your gums to heal and repair themselves.

If you are more likely to develop pregnancy gingivitis, we might recommend you see us more frequently for professional cleanings, and this simple precaution is well worth while. When combined with good dental care at home, it should greatly reduce your chances of developing this condition.

Dealing with Morning Sickness

This is a common problem, and some women find it easier to swap to bland tasting toothpaste during pregnancy. If you are sick, rinse your mouth with plain water, and try to wait around half an hour before brushing your teeth. This is because strong stomach acids can soften your teeth, and waiting a bit allows the mouth to become less acidic and for your teeth to re-harden slightly. It can be helpful to make sure you carry a small dental kit with you, consisting of travel toothpaste and a toothbrush, as well as a bottle of water and some alcohol-free mouthwash to help you freshen up afterwards.

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* Source: www.hindawi.com/journals/jp/2010/293439

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