Pregnancy and Your Teeth
Pregnancy is a time of joy and anticipation accompanied by many bodily changes. While this time can come with some morning sickness and bloating, one change you may not expect is how pregnancy can affect your teeth and gums. Pregnancy can cause a number of hormonal changes that can increase the risk of oral health problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Pregnancy Hormones and Your Teeth
During pregnancy, your body goes through a lot of changes. These changes are due in part to the surge of hormones flowing through your body. The two main culprits are progesterone, estrogen, and HPL. These hormones work together to relax the muscles in your body and prepare for nursing. Unfortunately, they also harm your oral health.
Progesterone slows down the flow of saliva in your mouth. Decreased saliva production leaves you more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease because there's less saliva available to wash away food and plaque. Tooth decay is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth, and when plaque is not removed through brushing and flossing, it breaks down the enamel on the teeth, causing cavities.
On the other hand, estrogen increases blood flow to your gums, making them more sensitive and prone to bleeding. Bleeding gums are a sign of a condition called pregnancy gingivitis, a form of gum disease that develops during pregnancy. If left untreated, pregnancy gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which is a severe form of gum disease that can damage the bone and connective tissue around the teeth.
In addition to progesterone and estrogen, another hormone that can adversely affect your oral health is human placental lactogen (HPL). HPL is produced by the placenta during pregnancy and has similar effects on the mouth as progesterone. It decreases saliva production and makes the gums more sensitive and prone to bleeding.
How to Protect Your Oral Health during Pregnancy
After understanding how pregnancy hormones affect your teeth, it is essential to know how to combat the increased risk of dental problems during this special time.
Good Oral Hygiene
First and foremost, good oral hygiene is essential. Be sure to brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. It doesn’t hurt to brush your teeth more than twice daily during this time, ensuring your teeth remain free of harmful bacteria. Also, thoroughly floss your teeth, followed by mouthwash at least once a day.
Furthermore, if you're experiencing morning sickness, mix a tablespoon of baking soda in a cup of water and rinse your mouth after getting sick. This will help remove any harmful stomach acid from your teeth.
See Your Dentist
In addition to practicing good oral hygiene at home, it's also essential to see your dentist during pregnancy so they can catch developing problems early and treat them accordingly.
Avoid Sugary Snacks and Drinks
Lastly, try to avoid sugary drinks and snacks as much as possible. We know how hard it is for expectant mothers to resist those cravings, but sugary drinks and snacks will increase your risk of developing cavities. Try substituting water or sugar-free drinks for sugary sodas or juices, and reach for healthy snacks like fruits or vegetables instead of candy or cookies when those cravings strike.
It is important to stay hydrated during pregnancy for many reasons, one being your oral health. Drinking a couple extra glasses of water daily will help combat dry mouth and increase saliva production. The saliva will help wash away harmful bacteria between cleanings.
If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, our team at ProHEALTH Dental can help ensure your mouth stays healthy throughout the entire process. Contact us online or give us a call! (855) 750-5011