Hormones can affect pregnant women’s oral health. An increase in estrogen and progesterone expands blood vessels in the gums. These hormones can also lead to dry mouth and an increased need for water during pregnancy. It is important for pregnant women to keep track of their dental health throughout pregnancy and know when to visit the dentist for treatment. We welcome patients to discover more about how pregnancy affects dental health and how we can treat oral health issues in our Arlington Heights, IL, dental office.
How Pregnancy Affects Dental Health in Arlington Heights, IL
There are multiple common oral health problems that are linked to pregnancy:
Pregnant women are more likely to develop gum problems like gingivitis. Gingivitis, or gum inflammation, can cause red, swollen, and bleeding gums. Over time, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis or gum disease. High estrogen levels and progesterone can also loosen the gum tissue and leave women at risk of tooth loss. Addressing gum inflammation before it turns into gum disease can prevent complications.
Cavities and Tooth Decay
Because pregnant women are more likely to develop gum infections, they can also develop tooth decay. Harmful bacteria can wear down the tooth enamel and enter permanent teeth. Over time, harmful bacteria create holes or pits in the enamel. Once bacteria affect the nerves and blood vessels within the tooth, patients require root canal treatment to clean and seal the tooth.
Often, dry mouth can be a sign of pregnancy. Pregnant women often develop gestational diabetes, which leads to dry mouth. Dry mouth can also attract harmful bacteria. Saliva helps wash away bacterial buildup to keep the mouth clean. When dry mouth occurs, patients can experience bad breath, difficulty chewing and swallowing, and an increased chance of infection.
Minimize Oral Health Risks During Pregnancy
Some women may wonder if dental care is safe during pregnancy. We encourage pregnant patients to visit the dentist to prevent
- Schedule regular dental cleanings: Professional dental cleanings can minimize harmful bacteria in the mouth that contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Our dental hygienists use stainless steel tools to remove plaque and tartar during dental cleanings. Plaque is a bacterial film that covers the teeth and gums. Tartar or calculus is plaque that is hardened. Because it can be difficult to remove tartar at home, professional dental cleanings are valuable.
- Minimize sugar: Sugar can easily hide in drinks and snacks that you may not even think of. Juice, sports drinks, bread, granola bars, protein bars, and other foods and drinks can have excessive sugar.
- Stay hydrated: Increased water intake can wash away harmful bacteria contributing to tooth decay and gum infections. Hydrating regularly also minimizes the risk of dry mouth. Because dry mouth decreases the production of saliva, water can help wash away bacteria.
Are you noticing dental health problems relating to your pregnancy? Contact AH Smiles for quality dental care today at (847) 230-9703. You may also schedule your next dental appointment with Dr. Brent Engelberg online.