Pregnancy changes your body in countless ways, so it’s not surprising that it can also affect your gums and teeth.
Here are some oral and dental health issues that may occur during pregnancy:
- Tooth decay and erosion: Because there’s more acid in your mouth than usual, tooth enamel is more likely to break down. If you have morning sickness and throw up often, there’s even more acid in your mouth. Damaged enamel can’t protect the teeth against cavities.
- Loose teeth: High hormone levels during pregnancy can temporarily affect the tissues and bones that keep your teeth in place.
- Gum disease: Gingivitis is a common oral disease with symptoms of red, swollen, or sore gums that bleed when you brush your teeth. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a more-serious condition marked by swelling and infection in the gums and bones that keep your teeth in place.
- Pregnancy tumors: These noncancerous lumps form on swollen gums. The tumors may be caused by too much plaque (sticky bacteria that forms on teeth) and can bleed. Pregnancy tumors usually go away on their own, but if you still have them after you give birth, they may need to be surgically removed.
How oral health issues can affect pregnancy
Any infection is cause for concern when you’re pregnant because it poses a risk to your baby’s health. Untreated gum disease allows bacteria to move from the mouth into the bloodstream, where it can increase the risk of premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy).
Your pregnancy and dental visits
If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible. You’ll want to find and treat any dental problems early and create an oral health plan for the rest of your pregnancy. Be sure to tell your dentist about any prescriptions and over-the-counter medications you’re taking.
Your dental treatment plan will be based on factors such as your current dental and physical health and how far along you are in your pregnancy. Your dentist may avoid treating some problems in the first trimester of pregnancy. He or she may also postpone treatments if you’re at high risk of miscarriage or have suffered one in the past.
According to the American Dental Association and the American College of Gynecologists, dental X-rays are safe with appropriate shielding. Routine X-rays can usually be postponed until after you give birth.
Maintain oral health during pregnancy
Here’s how to keep your teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy:
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and floss every day: Regular brushing and flossing around the gum line can remove plaque and prevent periodontitis and tooth decay.
- Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash: If morning sickness makes you feel too sick to brush your teeth, rinsing can wash away acid.
- Eat healthy foods: Your baby’s teeth start developing during the sixth week of pregnancy and continues through four months. Nutrients like calcium, protein, and vitamins A, C, and D help your baby’s teeth grow strong.
- Limit sweets: Instead of sweets, drink water and eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.
Condition -specific benefits at no additional cost
To help manage the pregnancy and improve oral health, our Dental Xtra program provides enhanced dental benefits for plan members who are pregnant. These benefits are covered 100% with no out-of-pocket expenses when seeing a participating provider.
- Two additional cleanings or periodontal maintenance visits per year (total of four).
Members who are pregnant can easily enroll online.
To use your Dental Xtra benefits, simply make an appointment with your dentist. To find a dentist in your plan’s network, visit our provider directory.