Everyone needs to take care of his/her oral health. But female hormones can lead to an increase in some problems, such as cold sores, canker sores, dry mouth, changes in taste and a higher risk of gum disease.
Pregnant women have rather unique oral health needs. Before becoming pregnant, women are encouraged to have regular dental checkups. It’s best for a woman’s mouth to be in good health (just as the rest of her body) before and during pregnancy.
What a woman eats during pregnancy affects the development of the unborn child, including his/her teeth. A baby's teeth begin to grow during the third and sixth months of pregnancy, so it is important to eat a balanced diet that includes calcium, protein, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and D.
Some have heard the old wives’ tale that calcium is lost from the mother’s teeth during pregnancy. That is a myth. The calcium that a baby needs is provided by the mother’s diet, not by her teeth.
If dietary calcium is inadequate, however, the pregnant mother’s body will provide this mineral from stores in her bones. An adequate intake of calcium and/or the supplements recommended by her obstetrician will help ensure that a pregnant woman gets all the calcium that she needs during her pregnancy.
Pregnant women should be reminded that dental work during pregnancy is safe. Untreated dental infections can pose a risk to the fetus. And, dental treatment may be necessary to maintain the health of the mother and child.
The best time for dental treatment is between 14 and 20 weeks. After such time, a woman may be uncomfortable sitting in a dental chair.
Should X-rays be needed, pregnant mothers should consult with their dentists and obstetrician for a cost-benefit analysis. Radiation from dental X-rays is very low. And, every precaution (e.g., leaded apron and leaded thyroid collar) is taken to minimize radiation exposure. Both leaded aprons and leaded thyroid collars protect the abdomen and thyroid (respectively) from radiation.
Pregnant women may have changes in taste and develop red, swollen gums that bleed easily, a condition called pregnancy gingivitis.