Thinking about your baby and prenatal care is normal during pregnancy; however, thinking about your teeth and dental care may not be forefront on your mind. Women need to pay special attention to their teeth and gums especially during pregnancy to avoid the increased risk of dental problems.
Pregnancy brings a change in hormones, especially increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are linked to plaque buildup on teeth. Plaque that is not removed can cause gingivitis and swollen gums that are tender and prone to bleed. Most pregnant women experience gingivitis to some degree, but it doesn't usually surface until the second trimester. If you had gingivitis before becoming pregnant, your condition will likely be aggravated; untreated gingivitis can lead to a more serious problem -- periodontal disease. Swollen gums that become irritated can also lead to pregnancy tumors, benign growths that will usually shrink and disappear without treatment. However, if the tumor causes discomfort or interferes with chewing or brushing, the dentist may suggest removing it.
If you experience dental problems causing pain, you can be treated at any time; however, consult your doctor if anesthesia is required or a medication is prescribed to you. Avoid X-rays during pregnancy, unless they are critical to emergency treatment. It is recommended to schedule elective procedures after your baby's birth. While you're expecting, have great expectations for maintaining good oral health. By doing so, you'll keep your beautiful smile and share it with your baby!
By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO