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“Pregnancy can be really hard on your teeth,” says Dr. Florence Lockhart, a Vancouver-based dentist. The hormonal shift (which is more pronounced in some women) can result in increased bacteria, putting you at a greater risk of tooth decay. Plus, you may be craving bad foods and eating more sugar than normal, or vomiting due to morning sickness – the acidity can leach minerals out of the teeth.
“You should be visiting the dentist more, not less, during your pregnancy,” says Dr. Lockhart who suggests booking a polish and scaling every three months. Here’s what else you need to know to keep your teeth in top shape when you’re expecting.
Gum recession and sensitivity issues often experienced during pregnancy are a result of periodontal disease resulting from pregnancy gingivitis. Puffy, red and bleeding gums are signs of pregnancy gingivitis that shouldn’t be brushed aside. “If you experienced bleeding anywhere else in your body you wouldn’t ignore it,” says Dr. Lockhart. “It’s not normal for your gums to bleed and it can lead to irreversible damage if you don’t do something about it.”
Pregnancy gingivitis is chronic inflammation triggered by hormones and poor oral hygiene. Studies have found that gingivitis increases the bacterial count in the vagina, thereby increasing the chance for inflammation and infection in the vagina. This is likely one of the reasons that pregnancy gingivitis significantly increases the risk of having a pre-term, low-birth weight baby.
If left untreated, pregnancy gingivitis can lead to gum disease, which can have an irreversible impact on your dental health. Periodontal disease results in bone loss and gum recession. “If the bone drops, the gums drop, exposing the roots,” says Dr. Lockart. This is significant because the tooth is covered by enamel for an added layer of protection. The roots don’t have this added protective layer so it’s easy for nerves and blood vessels to become exposed, resulting in sensitivity.