What Affects Your Oral Health During Pregnancy?

Expecting a baby comes with a number of new anxieties and emotions. There are a lot of changes that happen and new routines to be aware of during pregnancy. Because your oral health is tied directly to your overall body health, every decision you make during pregnancy affects your little one, too. Here’s what you can expect during each trimester, and how pregnancy affects your oral health (and your baby’s health, too). 

Oral Health and Fertility

It is imperative that you practice good oral health activities prior to conception, as it can help your chance of getting pregnant. There’s a direct correlation between oral health and fertility in men and women. In men, poor oral health can lead to a decreased sperm count. In women, poor oral health can cause an increase in bacteria, which can cause infertility. Ensuring you have healthy teeth and gums through regular dental visits, brushing, and flossing, can help you grow your family. 

Oral Health During Pregnancy

Just as oral health can affect your fertility and chances of getting pregnant, it can also affect the growth and development of your baby once you do get pregnant. A healthy mouth and healthy body can help your baby start out in the best possible way. 

Poor oral health during pregnancy, however, can unfortunately lead to a variety of health issues for you or your child, such as: 

  • Premature delivery before week 37 and low birthweight.
  • Preeclampsia, which causes rapid high blood pressure, swelling of hands and feet and protein in the urine after week 20. Preeclampsia has recently been linked to specific oral pathogens found in the mouth. 
  • Gum disease, which has been linked to poor pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth and low birthweight. Pregnant women in general are more likely to get gum disease (it’s estimated that 60-75% of pregnant women have it!).

Being mindful of your oral changes throughout each trimester of your pregnancy and taking care of your teeth and gums will help ensure you and your child stay healthy. 

First Trimester Oral Health

During your first trimester, you may be prone to morning sickness, nausea, or vomiting (ugh!). Unfortunately, the excess stomach acid that touches your teeth breaks down your tooth’s enamel, which increases the chance of developing cavities. If you do happen to lose your lunch, rinse your mouth afterwards. You can also consider brushing your teeth with baking soda to lessen the effects. 

In addition to nausea, the normal hormonal changes brought up by pregnancy can lead to an increased development of plaque buildup (and an increased chance of gingivitis). If left untreated they could put both you and the baby’s health in jeopardy. Keep an eye out for red, swollen, or bleeding gums. If you have any of those, see a Lakewood dentist as soon as possible

Oral Health in Your Second Trimester

During your second trimester, you may start to have food cravings. Those cravings may range from healthy foods such as carrots or fruit to unhealthy, sugary foods such as smoothies and cookies (and let’s be honest, everything in between). If your cravings error on the sugary or acidic side, you will have an increased risk of developing cavities. Try as best as you can to stay away from highly acidic and sugary foods. If you don’t stay away, be sure to rinse your mouth after eating or drinking, and brush your teeth twice a day. 

Dental Tip: If you do consume acidic food, wait 30 minutes to brush your teeth, as your saliva will help wash away the acid. Brushing right away will damage your enamel faster. 

You may also develop loose teeth during the second trimester as a result of increased progesterone and hormones. If you do, try not to panic. Schedule an appointment with your dentist in Lakewood, CO and they’ll see you as soon as possible. Besides doing your daily oral health routine (brushing and flossing), seeing your dentist during this time can help identify and prevent these issues early on.

Third Trimester and Dental Health

Towards the end of the second trimester and into the third trimester is when pregnancy tumors on the gums can develop. These are soft, red, swollen growths that appear on the gums and are called pyogenic granulomas. They are non-cancerous growths that develop because of increased estrogen levels and excess plaque. They are prone to bleeding and can be bothersome, but usually resolve themselves after the baby is born. Your dentist will probably avoid most dental treatments during this trimester.

As a general rule, you should reach out to your dentist for care and evaluation for any signs and symptoms of potential problems throughout your entire pregnancy, including:

  • Bad Breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Mouth sores or lumps on the gums
  • Receding gums
  • New spaces between your teeth
  • Gums that are red, tender, swollen or shiny, and bleed easily
  • Toothache or other pain

Postnatal Dental Care for You and Your Infant

After you have had your baby, a follow-up visit to your dentist is good practice for both you AND your baby! Dr. Turner feels strongly that all babies should be evaluated to ensure they have good mouth mechanics that will help their jaws grow well! In this appointment, she’ll check your baby’s tongue, mouth, and airway to ensure there’s no tongue-tie or lip-tie at play. If she does see a tongue-tie, she’ll talk with you about a frenectomy procedure to correct it.

We work closely with many specialists in the area to ensure your baby is growing, feeding, and thriving! The visit can help ensure that your health and your baby’s oral health are in good condition and there are no long-lasting effects. 

If you’re pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, it’s best to schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth Turner here to talk about healthy oral habits during pregnancy.

About the Author

Dr. Elizabeth Turner is a whole-health, family dentist in Lakewood, CO who provides general, restorative, and cosmetic dental care. She focuses on the mouth-body connection and helps her patients smile confidently, breathe clearer, and live healthier lives. 

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