Oral health may not be top of mind when preparing for a new baby, but it should be. A new survey out today from Delta Dental finds that 42.5 percent of expecting moms in the United States aren't visiting their dentist, a step that can help identify key health issues appearing specifically during pregnancy.
On the heels of Pregnancy Awareness Month, Delta Dental is reminding women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to visit a dentist for routine examination, cleanings and guidance about specific oral health issues that may occur during pregnancy. When visiting the dentist, expecting women should ask about the following issues and concerns:
- Why do my gums bleed more easily?
- "Pregnancy gingivitis" may affect women during pregnancy due to increased hormones.
- To help prevent a build-up of plaque, brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at least daily, paying special attention to cleaning along and just below the gum line.
- What is the red lump that has developed along my gumline?
- "Pregnancy tumors" are somewhat rare red growths of gum tissue that can form on the gums between the teeth as a result of excess plaque, usually during the second trimester of pregnancy.
- Don't worry too much, although they may bleed when irritated, these are benign and harmless, and usually subside on their own after the baby is born.
- Can I receive routine or emergency dental care during my pregnancy?
- Yes, be sure to get an examination and cleaning, but try to avoid routine dental care during the first trimester and later part of the third trimester.
- If a dental emergency arises, be sure to let your dentist know that you are pregnant. He or she will know what precautions need to be taken to resolve your dental problem.
- If you need cavities filled or other necessary procedures, the second trimester is the best time. Elective procedures like tooth whitening or other cosmetic work should be delayed until after the baby is delivered.
"We know expecting mothers have a lot going on during this exciting time in their lives, making a routine trip to the dentist is one step that shouldn't be skipped," said Dr. Bill Kohn, Delta Dental Plans Association's vice president of dental science and policy. "There are oral health issues that have a heightened risk of occurring during pregnancy, being aware and on top of these is key."