A woman’s body undergoes several hormonal changes during pregnancy, but did you know those changes can have an adverse affect on oral health?
It’s an important topic that arguably doesn’t get the attention it should. According to Dr. Rashmi Bhatnagar of BellaVista Dental Care, proper oral care on the mother’s part generally translates to a healthier baby.
“When a woman is pregnant, hormone changes cause flora in the mouth to change,” she said. “Think of the mouth as an ecosystem. That system becomes disturbed.”
The result? Bacteria normally washed away by brushing or flossing is more prone to remain in place. This often leads to the gum disease gingivitis.
“You have to remember, bacteria in the mouth translates to the whole system,” said Bhatnagar. “If you have bacteria in your gums, that can enter the bloodstream and reach the baby.”
Many pregnant women will encounter gingivitis during pregnancy. The question becomes how to properly deal with it.
Dr. Bhatnagar recommends checkups every six months for pregnant patients, though that timespan shrinks to three months if the gingivitis is causing excessive gum bleeding.
Mouth washes and medications for oral care are not usually recommended for pregnant patients, and X-rays are usually only performed in emergency situations after clearance from the pregnant patient’s OBGYN.
“If the woman is in pain, it’s better to take care of the pain, since that could result in increased blood pressure and potentially induce labor,” said Bhatnagar.
Along with scheduling checkups, brushing at least twice a day, and flossing at least once a day is recommended.
In the case a pregnant women needs treatment during her checkup – such as for a cavity – Dr. Bhatnagar says that treatment should only be performed during the first or third trimester, since the baby is encountering a great deal of development during the second trimester.