If you’re pregnant, especially if it’s your first time, dental care may be the farthest thing from your mind. But there are good reasons to still keep your oral health top of mind during this joyous time. In fact, your dentist in Austin recommends that everyone, including those who are pregnant, continue to keep up with regular preventive dental care every six months. After all, the truth is, that the oral health of the mom can affect the overall health of the baby.
During pregnancy, hormones can go haywire thanks to the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone. As a result, gum disease, or what’s known as pregnancy gingivitis, is common and affects about half of pregnant women, according to the American Dental Association. The symptoms of this condition are pain, swelling, tenderness, and excessive bleeding in the gums. While this may seem like no big deal, pregnancy gingivitis can result in low-birth-weight babies and even preterm births. If you have signs of pregnancy gingivitis, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Austin.
Decay & Cavities
Pregnancy cravings are real and, depending on the craving, can affect oral health and increase the risk of decay. For example, if your pregnancy cravings are treats that are high in sugar or you find yourself snacking more often than usual, it can increase the likelihood of developing a cavity. Additionally, morning sickness, which affects an estimated 70% of pregnant women, can weaken tooth enamel. When teeth are exposed to stomach acid over an extended period of time, this acid can wear away the protective layer of enamel and increase the risk of decay.
The good news is that there are things you can do to limit the negative effects of stomach acid on teeth:
- Rinse with water – Swish water around in your mouth and spit it in the sink after you experience morning sickness. This can remove some of the acids from your teeth.
- Wait an hour – You may feel like brushing your teeth immediately after getting sick, but your dentist in Austin recommends that you wait at least an hour before brushing after you’re sick.
- Drink water – Water can neutralize and wash away acids and bacteria.
- Use a tongue scraper – After you get sick, gently use a tongue scraper across your tongue. This can help remove some of the acids that may stick around on the tongue and then transfer to the teeth.
The Oral & Overall Health Connection
Oral health is closely related to overall health as well as pregnancy health. This is why three of the most respected organizations – the American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – encourage every expectant mother to see the dentist, especially during the earlier stages of pregnancy. It’s an important part of ensuring good health for the mom and the baby.
If you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t put off regular dental visits to your Austin dentist throughout your pregnancy. It’s also crucial to keep brushing twice a day and flossing once a day to keep bacteria at bay. However, if you need non-emergency or non-routine dental care such as cosmetic dentistry or a dental implant, wait until your baby is born to proceed with those treatments.