Pregnancy And Your Oral Health


           Your body changes in many ways during pregnancy. These changes can and do affect your oral health. Your oral health, in turn, may affect the course and outcome of your pregnancy. You should be aware of these changes and their consequences so that you can act accordingly to have a happy, healthy baby.

             Your body experiences dramatic hormonal shifts when you are pregnant, especially during your first pregnancy. These shifts directly affect your mouth and can cause problems that influence the course of your term. There is a basis for the old wives' tale that a woman loses one tooth with each pregnancy. Your resistance to tooth decay and gum disease is diminished during your pregnancy. This diminished resistance can lead to an increase in cavities and the occurrence of gum infections. In the past, this lead to tooth loss. While today these problems are easily treated in and of themselves, they can have negative consequences on your baby. Extensive decay that breaches the nerves in your teeth can cause them to abscess (become infected). The hormonal changes mentioned above can increase the amount of plaque and tartar deposits in your mouth and your gum tissue's response to them. Your risk of gum abscesses (infections) is greater. Growths on your gums called pregnancy tumors can form.


A typical example of a pregnancy tumor.

             ORAL INFECTIONS CAN NEGATIVELY AFFECT YOUR PREGNANCY. Scientific studies have conclusively proven that infections in your mouth can cause premature deliveries and lead to low birth-weight babies. Therefore, it is much better to prevent these infections from happening in the first place than to treat them after they may already have had unfavorable affects on your child.

            Prevention begins with home care. Your oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) must be meticulous and consistent. Any active decay or gum diseases that may be present in your mouth when you discover you are pregnant must be treated immediately before infections develop. Even if no active problems are present, your past dental history may prompt Dr. McArdle to recommend extra precautions such as prescription home care aids, more frequent cleanings or fluoride treatments here in our office for decay prevention. These extra precautions can make a difference in the health of your baby. If you have any questions about your oral health and your pregnancy, please ask us.



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Dr. Barry F. McArdle, D.M.D. ~ 118 Maplewood Avenue, The Captain Moses House, Suite B-7, Portsmouth, NH 03801

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