Many pregnant women skip dentist visits because they are focused on seeing other doctors like their obstetrician. Yet pregnancy may come with oral health complications, too. Fortunately, Delta Dental reports, the number of pregnant women going to the dentist in the United States has increased from 57.5% in 2015 to 63% this year.
“This is positive news and we’re glad expectant mothers are increasingly visiting the dentist,” said Bill Kohn, DDS, vice president of dental science and policy with the Delta Dental Plan Association. “Oral health issues have a heightened risk of occurring during pregnancy, so being aware and on top of these is crucial.”
Women face a specific pair of potential oral health issues during pregnancy. First, pregnancy gingivitis may increase gum bleeding and tenderness due to increased hormones. Proper oral hygiene can prevent this, though, including brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste with special attention to along and just below the gumline.
Second, pregnancy tumors are somewhat rare, red growths of gum tissue that can form between the teeth as a result of excess plaque, usually during the second trimester. They may bleed when they are irritated, but they are benign and harmless, and they usually subside on their own after the baby is born.
Of course, women can still receive routine or emergency dental care during pregnancy with some qualifications. Delta Dental, for example, advises pregnant women to avoid routine care during the first trimester and the later part of the third trimester. Also, the second trimester is the best time for fillings and other necessary procedures.
Meanwhile, tooth whitening and other cosmetic work should be postponed until after the baby is delivered. Pregnant women should advise their dentist that they are pregnant during any dental emergency as well. Dentists will know what precautions need to be taken to resolve the issue.
“This is an exciting time during the lives of expectant mothers and we’re reminding them that making a routine trip to the dentist is one step that shouldn’t be skipped,” said Kohn.
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