Protecting Your Smile and Your Baby Print
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Mark McLaughlin   
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 07:14
BETTENDORF, IA – Pregnancy should be a time of great joy and contentment. But according to a Quad-Cities dentist, expectant mothers need to take into consideration a common health concern that can threaten the safety of an unborn child.
“During pregnancy, women are more prone to dental problems,” said Melinda Hochgesang, D.M.D. (pictured at right), of Byrum Family Dentistry. “It is important to treat these problems effectively. Left untreated, they can put you at an increased risk of pregnancy complications.” Byrum Family Dentistry, the dental practice of Robert L. Byrum, D.D.S., P.C., and Dr. Hochgesang, is located at 3878 Middle Road, Bettendorf, IA.
According to Dr. Hochgesang, dental problems that women may experience during pregnancy include pregnancy gingivitis, periodontal disease, and oral pregnancy tumors.

“Pregnancy gingivitis affects almost 50 percent of pregnant women,” Dr. Hochgesang said. “It can cause gums to become red, puffy, and inflamed.” Pregnancy gingivitis arises when bacteria grows unchecked between teeth and gums. “When you eat, food particles stick in the crevices between gums and teeth,” she said. “These particles attract and nourish bacteria, resulting in gum inflammation. Pregnant women are at greater risk because their higher levels of progesterone and estrogen lead to increased blood flow through the body and in the gums.”
Untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. “This severe gum infection can destroy the bones and fibers that keep teeth in place,” Dr. Hochgesang said. “Periodontal gum disease can cause bleeding gums, tooth loss, and infection. Periodontal disease is a major concern during pregnancy, since it can lead to increased risks of both pre-term labor and the delivery of a low birth-weight baby.”
Oral pregnancy tumors – also known as pyogenic granulomas – can form when you suffer from pregnancy gingivitis or periodontal disease. “These tumors are growths that form on your gums,” she stated. “They can make it hard to speak, eat, and swallow, and may cause pain or discomfort. If necessary, these tumors can be removed by your dentist.”
Proper Dental Care

According to Dr. Hochgesang, proper dental care during pregnancy is vital. Regular dental checkups, along with oral hygiene practices at home, can keep teeth and gums free of tartar and plaque.
“Be sure to visit your dentist at least once during your pregnancy for a regular cleaning and routine dental checkup,” she said. “Usually, dental appointments are made during the second trimester, after your baby has formed vital organs.” While regular cleanings are not harmful during the first or third trimesters, she noted, having cleanings during the second trimester can reduce possible risks to your baby.
If you experience toothaches during your pregnancy, or notice blood or pus around the gum line, you should visit your dentist. “These are signs of infection, which can be dangerous during pregnancy,” Dr. Hochgesang said. “Oral infections can spread through your body, increasing the risks of pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage.”
Broken teeth, cavities, or other dental emergencies should be checked by your dentist. However, treatment may be delayed until after your baby’s birth, to avoid complications. “If you are in considerable pain, or the problem can be solved quickly and easily, your dentist may decide to give you treatment during your pregnancy,” she said. “Even so, be sure to talk with your pre-natal health care provider before undergoing any dental treatments.”
Dr. Hochgesang stressed that certain treatments should be delayed until after you’ve given birth to your child. “Teeth whitening and other cosmetic procedures should be held off,” she said. “If possible, postpone non-emergency dental work until the second trimester or until after delivery. Exposure to x-rays should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Any procedure requiring you to sit for long periods also should be avoided. Sitting in the dentist’s chair for a long time can put pressure on a major blood vessel and may cause fainting.”
Helpful Tips

The best way to foster healthy teeth and gums during pregnancy is to follow a daily dental care regimen. Dr. Hochgesang offers these helpful tips to help keep your smile happy and healthy:
  • The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that pregnant women eat a balanced diet, brush thoroughly with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and floss daily.
  • Get plenty of calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin C. These vitamins help build healthy gums and teeth.
  • Switch toothpastes if yours triggers nausea. Rinse your mouth with warm water or an antibacterial mouthwash if you suffer from vomiting and morning sickness.
  • Avoid eating too many sugary foods. They can cause plaque and tartar buildup.
  • Be sure your dentist knows you are pregnant.
  • Maintain healthy circulation by keeping your legs uncrossed as you sit in the dentist’s chair.
  • Bring a pillow to your visit with the dentist, to help keep you and the baby more comfortable. You can also bring headphones and some favorite music.
To find out more about Byrum Family Dentistry, call (563) 332-7734 or visit
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