For the first time in seven years birth rates in the United States are climbing according to a recent study published by the National Center for Health Statistics. Births rose 1 percent from 2013 to 2014. That’s nearly 4 million births in 2014. While a whole percent doesn’t sound like much to celebrate, its counter to the not-so-good news released from a recent survey by Delta Dental. In their survey of expectant moms they cited that 42 percent put off seeing their dentist during pregnancy. Bur surging hormones during pregnancy puts women at greater risk for gum disease. A routine dental examination is a step in identifying key health issues for mothers-to-be.
What a dental visit can reveal about your pregnancy
Visiting a dentist during pregnancy can help with certain oral health issues that occur during this time. Some issues are routine; others can be a precursor to bigger issues that need immediate attention before they become larger problems.
Some of the issues revolving around oral health and pregnancy include:
Pregnancy gingivitis During pregnancy a woman’s body increases its hormone production. When coupled with the build-up of plaque on your teeth the result is pregnancy gingivitis. Some of the signs are red, swollen or tender gums, receding or bleeding gums and the sensation that teeth are “loose”. You need to see a dentist who can help with this unpleasant infection and stop it from progressing into full blown periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease Untreated gingivitis left on its own progresses into a more serious, damaging infection involving your jaw bone and the attachment of your teeth to your jaw. Periodontal disease in turn predisposes to diabetes, heart disease, strokes, COPD and pneumonia. Studies have shown that pregnancy periodontitis even poses a risk to the fetus for pre-term labor or low birth weight.
Pregnancy tumors These small red bumps form on the gum line between teeth. Sometimes referred to as pyogenic granulomas, the occurrence of these tumors is rare, but when it does happen it’s most likely to occur during a woman’s second trimester. For the most part, these tumors are harmless and are not, as their name suggests, malignancies, but can cause irritation, bleeding and pain. Many times they also can make it difficult to speak or eat. The best course of action is to have your dentist remove them if the condition becomes a nuisance and “up” your frequency and thoroughness of brushing and flossing to prevent more.
What dental procedures are safe during pregnancy?
A good rule of thumb is to put off any purely elective dental treatments or procedures until after the baby is born. The first trimester and the first half of the second trimester are truly critical for a baby’s development and growth. The exception would be in the event of an emergency or pain or infection. Most cosmetic or restorative procedures like bridges or implants can also wait. While advancements in x-ray technology have made taking x-rays safer for pregnant woman, we also will wait on routine x-rays as well. But off course it goes without saying that you should continue to keep your dental examinations and cleanings (prophylaxis) on schedule.
If you suffer from morning sickness, and many pregnant moms do, the taste of toothpaste may be difficult to tolerate. If this is the case, shop for a tooth paste that is somewhat bland in flavor. Baking soda has been recommended as a bland substitute, but do check first with your doctor if you suffer from high blood pressure. And always rinse and brush your teeth after vomiting if possible. The acids can cause recession to the gum line as well as permanent erosive loss of your tooth enamel.
At our Southfield Dental office, your dental health and the health of your unborn baby is our first consideration and priority. Understand that dental cleanings and exams are even more critical because pregnancy puts moms at a higher risk for periodontal disease. If you are pregnant, or even thinking about getting pregnant, contact us at (248) 356- 8790 for an evaluation. Every patient, regardless of their current health, is treated with compassion, respect and kindness. Come and see for yourself the difference a great dentist can make!
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790