When you find out you’re expecting a little bundle of joy, I’m sure the last thing on your mind is your oral health care. In fact, many women avoid the dentist while pregnant, because they are worried about X-rays. While this is a completely valid concern, oral health is an important part of prenatal care. X-rays often can wait until after the baby is born and are taken only in emergency situations, with proper precautions.
So, how does your oral health affect your pregnancy? Hormones constantly are changing during pregnancy, which can cause side effects, such as dry mouth, which increases your risk of gingivitis (gum disease) and tooth decay. Pregnant women also are more prone to periodontitis, another form of gum disease that has been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight (https://bit.ly/3KwsJbr).
Another concern throughout pregnancy can be active decay in the mouth. Untreated decay can lead to an abcess (infection). Not only can the abscess be painful, but it can be a major health concern as it can enter the bloodstream. In addition to infections, the actual bacteria in your mouth is cause for concern, as well. Active cavity-causing bacteria actually can be transmitted to a baby after birth via kissing (https://bit.ly/3Ar4UgK). Early contact with this bacteria contributes to early childhood cavities.
Maintaining good oral health during pregnancy is vital in order to avoid pain, discomfort and costly dental treatments. Be sure to schedule your routine visits, and speak with your dentist regarding any concerns you have and precautions that can be taken during your visit.
– Dr. Cody Gray completed his dental education at Roseman College of Dental Medicine in South Jordan, Utah, and he is in practice at Woodstock Dental Town. 678-224-5722.