It is said that calcium is lost from the mother's teeth and "one tooth is lost" with every pregnancy. This is simply not true. A developing fetus does not decrease calcium in the mother's fully formed teeth. This myth probably got started because mothers tend to focus on the baby while sometimes neglecting themselves or their own health. However, you may experience some changes in your oral health during pregnancy. These changes can be avoided or minimized by good oral hygiene and regular, preventive care.
The primary change is a surge in hormones - particularly an increase in estrogen and progesterone - which is linked to an increase in the amount of plaque on your teeth. If the plaque isn't removed, it can cause gingivitis - red, swollen, tender gums that are more likely to bleed. So-called "pregnancy gingivitis" affects most pregnant women to some degree, and generally begins to surface in the second trimester due to hormonal changes. If you already have gingivitis, the condition is likely to worsen during pregnancy. If untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, a more serious form of gum disease involving the loss of bone around the roots of teeth and possible tooth loss.
You can prevent gingivitis by keeping your teeth clean, especially near the gum-line. You should brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and after every meal if possible. You should also floss thoroughly each day. If tooth brushing causes morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water or with anti-plaque and fluoride mouthwashes. Good nutrition, particularly plenty of vitamin C and B12, helps keep the oral cavity healthy and strong. More frequent cleanings by the dentist will help control plaque and prevent gingivitis.
If you're planning to become pregnant or suspect you're pregnant, you should schedule a check-up before or during your first trimester for a dental cleaning. Your dentist will assess your oral condition and map out a dental plan for the remainder of your pregnancy.
Non-emergency procedures generally can be performed throughout the pregnancy, but the best time for any dental treatment is the fourth through sixth months. Women with dental emergencies that create severe pain can be treated during any trimester, but your obstetrician should be consulted during emergencies that require anesthesia or when medication is being prescribed. Only x-rays that are absolutely essential for emergencies should be taken during pregnancy. Lastly, elective procedures that can be postponed should be delayed until after the baby's birth.
If you have any questions regarding your oral health, Dr. Mahlin would be happy to discuss them with you.