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What To Expect When You’re Expecting – Bundles Of Plaque, Gingivitis And More!

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pregnant woman at dentist

Expecting a new bundle of joy? Along with some more obvious lifestyle changes, you can also expect some changes in your dental health – you, baby and dental plaque makes three

Along with your physical checkups, emphasizing regular dental cleanings and keeping up with your daily oral care is essential during pregnancy.

Preventive dental work is key to preventing oral infections and decay, which have been linked to preterm birth. A recent review of 25 studies suggested an association between periodontal disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage, premature birth, and preeclampsia. The Oral Conditions and Pregnancy (OCAP) study found preterm birth occurred for 11.2% of periodontally healthy women, compared to 28.6% of women with moderate to severe periodontal disease.

Wondering what kinds of dental surprises you could expect while expecting?

Pregnancy Gingivitis
Fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone have a significant impact on women’s dental health during regular menstrual cycles and menopause so it’s no surprise that the rollercoaster of hormonal fluctuations you’ll experience during pregnancy are significant.

Some women experience inflammation of the gums, causing swelling and tenderness often referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis”. Untreated, this sensitivity and occasional mild during brushing and flossing can lead to more serious forms of gum disease putting both you and baby at risk. 
Increased Risk of Tooth Decay
Between increased carbohydrate and sugar consumption and morning sickness, the amount of acids your mouth is exposed to can increase, leading to increased enamel and tooth decay, as well has halitosis (bad breath).
Pregnancy Tumors
Some women experience tissue growths in their gums called “pregnancy tumors”. Typically occurring during the second trimester, these growths are not cancerous - they’re just swelling. Pregnancy tumors bleed easily and have a red, raw-looking raspberry-like appearance; they usually disappear on their own after delivery but you can discuss removal options with your dentist.

Regular dental care can become challenging during pregnancy, morning sickness can make it especially unpleasant - even the minty smell of your regular paste might be enough to send you running away from your sink. If this is a challenge that you’re experiencing, I recommend trying milder flavours or even brush with water and baking soda if you can’t find a tolerable one.  Using a mouthrinse, particularly a therapeutic rinse such as Nicorinse, for a minimum of 30 seconds twice a day has been found to have an apparent link to reducing the chance of giving birth before 35 weeks from 1 in 5 to 1 in 20. Definitely good reason to swish regularly!

While elective dental treatments, such as whitening or cosmetic treatments, should probably wait until after pregnancy, continuing to visit your dentist is not only safe but recommended. Be sure you communicate to your dentist and hygienist that you are pregnant but your routine dental care can go ahead normally. You’ll likely find that the second trimester is ideal - most women are past the worst of their morning sickness but you’ll be more comfortable than when your baby is more developed in the third trimester.

Anaesthetics, antibiotics, and basic xrays (with appropriate shielding) are safe to use while pregnant. A 2015 study in the Journal of the American Dental Association followed a group of pregnant women who had procedures that used anesthetics like lidocaine shots and a group that did not, finding that these treatments were safe during pregnancy, as they cause no difference in the rate of miscarriages, birth defects, prematurity or weight of the baby.

Like many things during pregnancy, you’ll find that the key to your best health–and the health of your baby–is routine and daily care. Continue to visit your dentist for cleanings and emphasize daily brushing, flossing and using your mouthrinse!

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