Maintaining good oral hygiene is a crucial matter, more so during pregnancy. One may wonder what oral health has to do with pregnancy and how the two are related. The fact is that the body experiences many changes during pregnancy; some physical and others hormonal. These hormonal changes increase the risk of developing various infections that may, in turn, be a hazard to the unborn baby.
Here are the things to look out for during pregnancy that can affect your mouth, teeth and gums.
A typical dental problem experienced during pregnancy is Pregnancy Gingivitis. This is a condition where the gums usually swell, become red and tender, and may bleed. It usually occurs within the first trimester of pregnancy.
Pregnancy Gingivitis can be controlled at its early stages. However, if not detected and treated in good time, the disease can lead to periodontics. Periodontics is known to cause tooth loss, low baby weight at birth, and even premature births. Babies who are born prematurely are at a higher risk of developing health complications compared to babies born at full term. Such health problems include intellectual developmental disabilities and respiratory diseases.
Pyogenic granuloma, commonly known as pregnancy epulis is another type of gum infection that is common during pregnancy. Its main symptom is a localized gum enlargement accompanied by consistent bleeding. Extra and more precise cleaning is required to do away with this problem.
As earlier mentioned, many hormonal changes come with pregnancy. This brings along risks of oral infections such as an increase in the build-up of plaque. Though pregnancy is not attributed to causing plaque buildup, an expectant mother’s previous habits of oral hygiene may be insufficient during pregnancy. As a result, her body may not have the ability to fight the infections resulting from this.
This is what causes plaque, a condition that may later develop into gingivitis. The severity of gingivitis is not easy to treat or control. Pregnant women should, therefore, go for regular dental cleanings during their term.
Whether or not the pregnancy is a first, morning sickness is a symptom that many women experience. With it comes the concern about the erosion of the tooth enamel. This is because morning sickness causes the amount of acid in the mouth to increase. This acid may weaken the teeth and cause its material to be eroded.
To counter this, pregnant mothers are advised to rinse their mouths with baking soda dissolved in water before brushing their teeth.
A good number of women experience unusual food cravings during their pregnancy term. Often, this craving for sugary snacks, which may increase the risk of tooth decay to the mother.
At Crescent Heights Dental Clinic we advise expectant mothers to avoid these foods and opt for low-sugar snacks and meals instead. Alternatively, they can select healthier options of sweet foods such as fresh fruits, followed by thorough rinsing of the mouth with a mouth-rinse and some water.
In some cases, expectant mothers are discouraged from practicing their oral hygiene routine because of retching, which occurs while brushing the teeth. This primarily occurs while reaching for the molars at the back of the mouth. A smaller toothbrush should be used, preferably those made for toddlers to reduce irritation.
During pregnancy, you should be more careful when brushing your teeth by doing it in slow circular motions. You should concentrate on your breathing, close your eyes, or listening to music while brushing to distract yourself from the irritation. If the taste of toothpaste is provoking the gag reflex, it is advisable to switch to another brand.
There may be loosening of the bones that keep the teeth firmly in place as a result of the production of high levels of certain hormones. This can lead to the loss of teeth. Any of the infections mentioned above can also lead to tooth loss if not detected and treated in time.
The dentist should be informed of the pregnancy before any appointment. This will help them to decide which medication to administer in case of any infections or rescheduling of any previously scheduled dental x-rays. The radiation emitted by dental x-rays is very low. However, doctors recommend that the procedure should be rescheduled all together for the sake of the baby’s health.
Pregnant women are advised to visit a dentist regularly. Though one may be religiously maintaining an excellent oral hygiene routine, a dental infection may still arise as a result of hormonal changes. It is, therefore, advisable to visit the dentist regularly for such cases to be detected and treated early. This will prevent further infections to the mother and the baby.
It is advisable to brush our teeth at least twice a day. Expectant mothers, especially, should do this to prevent the build-up of plaque, which can later cause gingivitis. They should also add flossing to their oral hygiene routine. It should be done at least once a day to remove particles of food that may be stuck in between the teeth where toothbrush bristles cannot reach.
Antibacterial mouthwash should be used to flush out any remaining bacteria. This prevents gingivitis and also helps in rinsing out any parts of the mouth where a toothbrush cannot reach. Emphasis should also be put in brushing or scraping out the tongue daily. This is because the tongue could also be carrying bacteria that may cause infections.
A healthy diet is essential during pregnancy. It not only aids the development of the baby but also strengthens the mother’s body. It is also essential to observe the same for the sake of the mother’s oral health. Proteins and vegetables should be incorporated into the diet in the right proportions.
Expectant mothers should always take care of their dental health to safeguard themselves and their children from infections. For any dental assistance, get in touch with Crescent Heights Dental Clinic.