How is dental health affected by pregnancy?
Two common myths about pregnancy and teeth are: "You lose a tooth for every pregnancy you have," and, "If you don't get enough calcium during your pregnancy, your body takes it from your teeth."
Neither one is true. However, tooth decay and gum disease are still a concern during pregnancy. Taking good care of the mouth is important, not just for the mother but also for the fetus. Many women who previously had healthy teeth and gums may notice that their gums become swollen, inflamed or bleed during their pregnancy. This condition is sometimes called "pregnancy gingivitis." It may appear as early as the first trimester and is the result of changing hormone levels and increased amounts of progesterone. An increase in hormones exaggerates the way gum tissues react to irritants in plaque.
However, it is the plaque, the sticky layer of harmful bacteria that is constantly forming on teeth, not the hormone levels, which cause gum disease.
Gum disease has been shown to be linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Crowded teeth increase the risk of gingivitis, because crowded teeth are harder to keep clean than teeth that are straight.
Simple steps for a healthy mouth during pregnancy:
1) Brush thoroughly with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.
2) Floss, or use another interdental cleaner, between your teeth once a day.
3) Eat a balanced diet. If you snack, do so in moderation.
4) Schedule regular dental checkups and periodic professional teeth cleaning.
Consult an orthodontist to correct crowded, spaced or misaligned teeth to improve the ability to clean the teeth. Straight teeth are not just about cosmetic appearance, but also for good health of the mouth and the body.
Dr. Bhatia has completed two full years of specialty training in orthodontics after obtaining her degrees in Pediatric Dentistry and General Dentistry. Orthodontics is not part of what we do - it's all that we do!
As always, Dr. Bhatia is happy to answer any additional questions. Send them to her at Kihei Orthodontics, Azeka Makai, P.O. Box 1378, Kihei, HI 96753, or visit www.KiheiOrthodonticsMaui.com or www.LahainaOrthodonticsMaui.com.