Pregnancy causes many important changes in the human body in order for a baby to grow and develop in a healthy manner. In many women, it may also cause changes that have a negative effect on your health, and this includes dental health. Pregnancy does increase the risk of dental issues. This article will explain how this happens.
Many women suffer from morning sickness during pregnancy. This condition is characterized by frequent nausea and/or vomiting. When someone suffers from morning sickness, there is a constant influx of stomach acid into the mouth. Stomach acid is extremely acidic and erosive to tooth enamel.
Severe morning sickness can lead to severe erosion (chemical wearing away) of enamel. This not only places the teeth at a higher risk for cavities because the bacteria that cause cavities thrive in an acidic environment. It also makes the enamel thinner and weaker. Thin, weak enamel is more prone to cracking. It can also make the teeth more sensitive.
In cases of extreme sensitivity or a complete loss of enamel, dental treatment is necessary to cover and protect the affected teeth.
Another problem that frequently occurs during pregnancy affects the gum tissues. Hormone-induced gingivitis can happen during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. The large hormone swings during pregnancy make the gums hyper-reactive to any type of irritation because they lead to an increase in blood flow to the gum tissues. This means that even the tiniest amount of dental plaque on the teeth can cause severe gingivitis. Often these gums, when they overreact, become very tender, swollen and bleed easily.
Increased Risk for TMJ Problems
Many women experience pain, clicking, popping or locking of their jaw joints during and just after pregnancy. This is probably due to changes in the ligaments and tendons of the joints throughout the body. Stretching of ligaments and tendons in the hips is necessary to accommodate and give birth to a growing baby.
However, stretching in the ligaments and tendons of the jaw joints can lead to problems with chewing and speaking. In general, these joint changes tend to be temporary. Women who suffer from TMJ problems before pregnancy are more likely to have linger sl problems after pregnancy.
Lack of Great Oral Hygiene
While our pregnant patients have little control over whether they experience morning sickness, severe gingivitis or TMJ problems, there is one oral health factor they can control: oral hygiene. There is an increased risk for poor oral hygiene for several reasons. Sadly, some of those reasons are related to those factors that we just listed: the ones that you CAN’T control.
Morning sickness causes some women to gag when attempting to brush and floss, or the flavor of toothpaste and mouthwash may make them nauseous. The tenderness and bleeding that accompanies hormone-induced gingivitis makes many people shy away from good brushing and flossing techniques. And some experience TMJ problems that can affect their ability to open their mouths for good brushing and flossing. We just want to point those out so that you know we do understand that great oral hygiene is more difficult during pregnancy.
We also know that sometimes during pregnancy, certain habits just take a backseat. Either you’re too tired or just forget to brush and floss at the end of a long day. When you don’t keep up with great plaque removal routines, you place yourself at a higher risk for cavities and gum disease. Hormone-induced gingivitis gets much worse when you don’t consistently remove plaque from the teeth.
More Questions about Dental Issues and Pregnancy?
Call Rockland Dental Specialists today to schedule a consultation with one of our dental experts. We can help you maintain great oral health throughout your pregnancy and for the rest of your life.