Dental Health and Pregnancy – A Correlation

A healthy body is a privilege, and certainly important for a successful pregnancy. Healthy teeth and gums are no exception, and a lack of good health in this area may lead to problems for you and your baby.

Even healthy teeth can develop problems over time. Regular brushing and flossing is a good start, but for the complete picture of healthy teeth, regular dental check-ups are important. Many problems with teeth and gums do not hurt until the problem is more complicated, and more costly to fix. Self diagnosis is very unreliable with teeth and gums.

Pregnant women are especially prone to dental issues; you may notice some oral changes during the course of your pregnancy.

Importance of dental care in pregnancy

During pregnancy, you are at a risk of problems with your teeth or gums. If you have an infection in your teeth or gums, the chance of your baby being premature (born early) or having low birth weight may be slightly higher than if your teeth and gums are healthy.

There are 2 major reasons women can have dental problems during pregnancy:

  • Pregnancy gingivitis—during pregnancy, changes in hormone levels allow bacteria to grow in the mouth and gums more easily. This makes periodontal disease more common when you are pregnant.
  • Nausea and vomiting—pregnant women may have nausea and vomiting or “morning sickness,” especially in the first trimester. The stomach acids from vomiting can break down the enamel coating of the teeth.

Points to remember while seeing a dentist during pregnancy

You should see a dentist at the planning stage so that you can focus on your pregnancy, rather than worry about uncertainties; however, if that is not possible, then late is better than never. A preventative check-up should comprise of a thorough visual examination, and a scale and clean.

Make sure your dentist knows you are pregnant. If medications for infection or for pain are needed, your dentist can prescribe ones that are safe for you and your baby.

Tell your dentist about any changes you have noticed since you became pregnant, and about any medications or supplements you are taking. Routine x-rays should be avoided in pregnancy, but it may be necessary if there is a problem or an emergency. Your body should be covered with a lead apron to protect you and your baby.

Dental work can be done safely at any point in pregnancy. If possible, it is best to delay treatments and procedures until after the first trimester.

Dental care is safe during pregnancy, and important for the health of you and your baby. Your dentist can help you improve the health of your mouth during pregnancy, and can also find and treat problems with your teeth and gums.

Is Local Anaesthetic Safe During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding?

Yes it is, and even though it is secreted in breast milk, it does not seem to cause any adverse effect on the baby, neither short nor long term.

What dental problems may I have during pregnancy?

Bleeding Gums

This is most prominent between the 2nd and 8th month of pregnancy, and 30-100% of women will experience some gum bleeding. It can largely be prevented by regular home care, and a scaling & cleaning by the dentist. It is attributed to increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, making gums more sensitive to existing gingivitis, i.e. plaque bacteria causing gums to become inflamed.

Your dentist may need more than one visit to treat any gum problems, and this should alleviate most signs of bleeding. It is, however, important to follow a strict oral hygiene regimen of brushing (consider electric toothbrushes), flossing, interdental brushes if appropriate, and varying mouth rinses.

In addition, a healthy balanced diet will eliminate possible nutritional deficiencies.

Small Growth on Gums

There are many causes for this, some more serious than others; pregnancy granuloma occurs in up to 5% of pregnant women, and is a special manifestation of the gum overreacting to existing plaque and tartar build up. These can often resolve spontaneously with the removal of plaque/tartar, but sufficiently advanced growths may need removal via a minor surgical procedure.

All swelling inside your mouth must to be checked by a dentist ASAP!!

Bad Breath

This can have many causes, both benign and more serious. As a starting point, brush and floss, use a mouth rinse, as well as giving tongue, gums, cheeks and palate a good scrub with a large soft bristle brush. Sinus problems, gum disease, and other health issues can cause bad breath.

If it becomes a problem you can’t seem to get ahead of, contact your dentist to see what the likely cause may be.

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