Did you know that more than 47% of people over 30 have gum disease? This is important. Pregnant women may be at an increased risk of developing certain oral problems, such as gum disease, among others. Pregnancy oral health is important not only while you're pregnant, but also before you become pregnant and after you give birth.
One of the reasons why your oral health changes when pregnant is because your body is flooded with different hormones. You usually don't have these hormones in such high amounts. These hormones will affect your body in different ways, and your teeth are no exception. If you've never cared much about your oral health before, it's time to start caring once you become pregnant.
That means brushing and flossing your teeth much more often, among other dental hygiene practices. Keep reading and learn more about how your pregnancy oral health works. Also, what you can do to ensure your teeth stay as healthy as possible.
How Does Pregnancy Change Your Oral Care Routine?
How does pregnancy change your pregnancy oral health routine exactly, you might ask? While pregnancy is beautiful, it can cause some problems that are not so beautiful, such as gum disease. Some scientific studies have found that pregnant women have a high risk of developing gum disease during their pregnancy. Pregnancy oral health is key to the health of mom and baby.
You might think this is not such a big deal, since many people with mild forms of gum disease live as normal. But the danger comes from the fact that pregnant women with gum disease also have a higher risk of delivering preterm babies. This, of course, can be dangerous to your baby's health.
You should also know that if you already have gum disease and then become pregnant, this can worsen the condition of your gum disease. Gum disease usually starts as gingivitis, which is a mild form of the condition. Flossing and brushing your teeth regularly will fix the issue, and it can prevent gingivitis from occurring in the first place.
However, if you don't do anything to treat your gum disease, it will eventually become worse and turn into periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious condition that can involve oral infections and even the loss of teeth. This condition is devastating to your pregnancy's oral health.
What you eat while pregnant is also important for your oral health. For example, if you tend to eat a lot of sugary snacks, drinks, or candy, you will be at a greater risk of tooth decay. This is a problem, because many women crave certain foods that aren't great for their dental or overall health.
But what should you do about these problems, and how can you ensure your oral health stays in top condition throughout your pregnancy?
Brush Your Teeth More Often
Brushing your teeth is the foundation of any good dental health routine, including pregnancy oral health. You should aim to brush your teeth at least twice a day. If you eat a lot of sugary foods or drinks, you might want to increase that number to three.
What If You Don’t Brush?
If you don't brush your teeth every day, you risk developing all sorts of dental problems, such as cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. The simple act of brushing your teeth can keep these dental problems at bay. But why do these dental problems happen in the first place?
It all has to do with certain strains of bacteria that live in your mouth. When these bacteria interact with food particles, especially sugar, they secrete acid as a byproduct. This acid is not caustic enough to cause damage to the tissues inside your mouth, but it is strong enough to strip the enamel layers away from your teeth.
Damage to Enamel
Enamel covers the surface of your teeth, and it is also one of the strongest tissues in the human body. It works to protect the deeper and more sensitive tissues deeper within your teeth, which is important to consider with oral health during your pregnancy. and also protects nerves and blood vessels. Eventually, the bacterial acid will break down the enamel and cause tooth decay and cavities.
It will also cause tooth sensitivity, because the enamel will become so thin that it can no longer protect the nerves inside the tooth. As tooth decay worsens, the pulp of the tooth will eventually be exposed, which can be painful, but dangerous, since it is likely to become infected.
The oral bacteria also secrete plaque, which is a sticky substance that covers your teeth. Over time, plaque will become tartar, which is a hard substance that is difficult to remove. Once tartar forms, you will need to go to a dentist to get it professionally removed.
Floss Your Teeth More Often
Many people don't realize that flossing is just as important as brushing, especially in terms of conditions like gum disease. If you've ever wondered, "What does it mean when your gums bleed?", it means your gums are slightly inflamed. Many people end up with bleeding gums when they floss, after not having flossed in a long time.
Inflamed and swollen gums treatment options mainly include flossing. If your gums are inflamed, you may be in the early stages of gingivitis. As long as you start flossing, you won't have to worry about the gingivitis getting worse. But why is flossing so important to preventing gum disease in particular?
When you brush your teeth, your toothbrush can only reach certain surfaces of your teeth. Namely, the brush can reach the tops of your teeth, as well as the front and back. But your brush will be too big to reach the sides of your teeth.
If you don't floss, food will eventually build between your teeth, which is not great for pregnancy oral health. Once bacteria go after those food particles, they can start to fester and cause cavities and decay between your teeth. Beyond that, they will also create tartar.
Tartar can inflame and irritate your gums, which eventually leads to more likely gum disease. Once tartar develops, it can also be very difficult to floss your teeth. If you've ever wondered, "What is a dental deep cleaning consists of?" One of the many aspects it involves is tartar removal.
By removing the tartar from between your teeth and at the base of your teeth, your gums will become less inflamed. You will also have space to floss your teeth again to ensure your gums stay healthy.
Visit the Dentist
Normally, people should visit the dentist one or two times a year, but if you're pregnant, you might have to make more dental visits than usual. As you have already seen, your dental health can change significantly when pregnant. If you don't stay on top of your oral health routine, you could develop gum disease or tooth decay.
Visiting your dentist is a good idea, because he or she can give you insights into your oral health. For example, your dentist might recommend certain brands of toothpaste that might help with your particular dental issues. Some women in the midst of morning sickness have a difficult time dealing with certain smells, such as toothpaste, which might make them not want to brush their teeth.
To avoid this problem, you can try using types of toothpaste that don't have any smell. Your dentist can also tell you more about your gum health. For example, you might have gingivitis and not even know it.
That's because the early stages of gingivitis tend to be very slight and unnoticeable. If your dentist discovers you have gum disease, he can give you some helpful pointers when it comes to brushing and flossing your teeth.
Your dentist might also advise you on what foods to avoid to keep your teeth healthy. Sticky, sugary foods like toffee or caramel are especially bad, since they like to stick to your teeth and break down your tooth enamel.
Your dentist can also prescribe you antibiotics if you have a dental problem that needs to be fixed fast, such as a tooth infection or advanced gum disease.
All about Pregnancy Oral Health
Pregnancy oral health is no joke, and if you ignore it, you could be at an increased risk of gum disease, which could also put you at a higher risk of delivering a preterm baby. As long as you visit your dentist, brush your teeth every day, and floss, you can be confident knowing that your dental health is in good hands.