Pregnancy & Tooth Painby Melissa Luznicky Garrett
Gum and tooth pain during pregnancy is not uncommon, but discomfort is usually a symptom of a more serious underlying dental condition. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, roughly 50 percent of all pregnant women develop gingivitis, or an inflammation of the gums. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more severe periodontal disease, causing uncomfortable tooth pain and possible tooth loss.
Pregnancy-related tooth pain is often the result of sensitive gums. Upon observation, gums appear red and swollen. You might also notice that gums bleed easily when you brush and floss. Teeth will feel loose as the roots begin to deteriorate. Hot and cold foods may also bother you more during pregnancy. The American Dental Association reports that although these symptoms generally disappear after delivery, overall oral health might not fully return to its pre-pregnancy state.
Hormonal changes and increased blood flow to the gums during pregnancy can cause gum sensitivity and tooth pain. Sensitivity can also be attributed to increased dental tooth decay and acid erosion due to excess vomiting. Forgoing regular dental check-ups worsens the underlying causes of tooth pain.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends refraining from any unnecessary or cosmetic dental procedures until after delivery. To combat gingivitis and periodontal disease, your dentist may opt for scaling and root planning, a non-surgical procedure in which he cleans the tooth-root surface to remove plaque and tarter build-up. This procedure can help to alleviate most painful symptoms. If dental work is necessary, the second trimester or first half of the third trimester is the ideal time. This reduces risk to the baby and makes lying down through the procedure as comfortable as possible for you.
The best way to avoid gum and tooth pain during pregnancy is to practice good oral hygiene. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to gently clean your teeth and gums after every meal. If your teeth are extra sensitive, use a toothpaste specifically designed to combat sensitivity. Floss daily. Cut down on sugary foods and drinks, and drink plenty of water. Chew gum that contains xylitol, an ingredient that reduces the bacteria that causes tooth decay. Rinse out your mouth with water after any instances of vomiting. Finally, see your dentist regularly.
Many women are tempted to put off dental appointments during pregnancy for fear that any procedure will harm the developing baby. In reality, not seeing your dentist could be more harmful. The American Dental Association has found a link between poor oral hygiene and preterm, low birth weight infants. Discuss with your dentist any additional steps you should take to ensure healthy gums and teeth, as well as a healthy pregnancy.
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