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September 12, 2012

Brushing for Two: Oral Health During Pregnancy

So you’ve discovered that your own little bundle of joy is on the way.  Now that you are caring for yourself as well as your unborn child, you have additional responsibilities.  One topic you may not consider in relation to your pregnancy is your oral health. Atlanta dentist Dr. Peter Pate explains why you shouldn’t place your dental hygiene at the bottom of the list during your pregnancy.

Gum Disease and Your Pregnancy

Periodontal (gum) disease has a direct relation to many chronic inflammatory diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. It also has been linked to preterm and low-birth weight babies. The main culprit suspected in the link is the bacterium P. gingivalis, which induces your body’s inflammatory response. When gum disease causes your gums to swell and bleed, bacteria enters your bloodstream through the soft infected tissue. As P. gingivalis travels throughout your body, it can provoke the same inflammatory response as it did in your gums. When you are pregnant, this can mean abnormal conditions surrounding the birth of your child.

Morning Sickness is More than Uncomfortable

Morning sickness is an infamous indication of pregnancy. Some women are only afflicted with nausea and vomiting during the early stages of their pregnancy, while others may experience this discomfort all the way until birth. Stomach acids can devastate your teeth by siphoning important minerals from them, such as calcium and phosphate, in a process called demineralization. Exposure to the acid weakens the enamel and leaves the teeth more susceptible to bacterial infection. Dr. Pate suggests rinsing your mouth with water and baking soda after vomiting to reduce the chances of enamel damage. Because baking soda is alkaline (opposite of acidic), it helps to neutralize the acid. The constant nausea can also make it nearly impossible to maintain a healthy daily oral hygiene routine (e.g. brushing your teeth at least twice every day). Eat smaller portions of healthy food throughout the day, and chew a stick of sugarless gum once in a while to generate enamel-strengthening saliva.

To learn more about the connection between your oral health and pregnancy, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Pate, contact Dentistry in Buckhead at (404) 266-9424. We proudly welcome patients from the Buckhead area, as well as Sandy Springs, Lenox, Brookhaven, and the greater Atlanta area.