If you're considering getting pregnant, or are already expecting, concern over the status of your teeth might not be at the top of your list as of late. However, if you're early enough into a pregnancy, or planning one, you should actually schedule an appointment to see your dentist sooner rather than later. If your stack of pregnancy-related reading material hasn't already included a chapter on oral health, let us help by providing you the short version as to why you should make that appointment soon.
Good oral health is the key to good overall health. You know that already. And during pregnancy, your oral health contributes to the health of your baby. Here are a few things to be mindful of in the coming months as you plan your pregnancy:
- Visit your dentist early: Generally speaking, dental work can be safely performed through the first half of the third trimester, but earlier is always better – preferably before pregnancy. The American Dental Association has pointed to research linking premature birth and low birth weight to women with periodontitis (gum disease): a sure enough reason to schedule a full check-up early. While this might seem like something you can brush off if you're not already suffering from gum disease, that wouldn't be wise. Why? Hormones, and the sneak-attack caused by Pregnancy Gingivitis.
- Pregnancy Gingivitis: Hormones play a pivotal role in a woman's life, and during pregnancy they're out in full-force. During pregnancy, this natural rise in hormones causes an increase in blood flow to gum tissue which can cause some women to experience swelling and tenderness in their gums. This increase in blood flow also tends to cause gum tissue to exaggerate the way it reacts to existing plaque in the mouth, and can trigger what is known as “pregnancy gingivitis.” If ignored, gingivitis leads to the aforementioned periodontitis, and a true cause for concern during pregnancy. That's why it's so important to see your dentist as early as possible.
- Pregnancy Tumors: While the name might cause you some concern, these benign growths, which frequently appear along the gumline, are more of a nuisance than anything else. Only about 10% of women get them, and typically in the second trimester. Like pregnancy gingivitis, they're usually the result of increased hormonal activity and improper oral care.
As you can see, your dentist can and should be one of your many allies in the path to motherhood. So see your dentist early, and as often as is suggested during your pregnancy. You'll be pleased you did, and so will your baby!