Dr. Michael Handler

What effect can your pregnancy have on your teeth?

By Dr. Michael Handler

During pregnancy, hormonal changes, particularly increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, can affect oral health. These hormonal shifts may lead to various dental issues. One common concern is an increased risk of gingivitis, characterized by inflammation and bleeding of the gums. This is often referred to as pregnancy gingivitis.

The hormonal changes can make gums more sensitive to the bacteria found in plaque, leading to a heightened inflammatory response. As a result, pregnant individuals may experience swollen, red, and tender gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to more severe periodontal diseases.

Moreover, the increased hormone levels can contribute to the development of pregnancy tumors, which are non-cancerous growths on the gums. While these growths are generally harmless, they can cause discomfort and may require removal by a dentist.

Additionally, pregnancy can lead to cravings for sugary foods and increased snacking, potentially elevating the risk of tooth decay. Morning sickness, a common pregnancy symptom, can expose teeth to stomach acid, increasing the likelihood of enamel erosion.

Routine dental care is crucial during pregnancy. However, some individuals may be hesitant to seek dental treatment due to misconceptions about potential risks. It is generally safe to undergo essential dental procedures, like cleanings and cavity fillings, during pregnancy. Informing the dentist about the pregnancy allows for appropriate precautions, such as avoiding unnecessary X-rays.

Maintaining good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups, is essential during pregnancy. A well-balanced diet, low in sugary snacks and beverages, can also contribute to maintaining optimal oral health.

In summary, pregnancy can affect oral health by increasing the risk of gingivitis, leading to the development of pregnancy tumors, and potentially contributing to tooth decay. However, with proper oral hygiene and regular dental care, these issues can be effectively managed during pregnancy.

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