Oral Care During Pregnancy
Being pregnant changes a lot of things. You might suddenly crave foods you never wanted before, have morning sickness, and experience swelling of the hands and feet. So, what about your teeth and gums? Are there any changes there?
The answer is yes. As much as you need to keep your body healthy during pregnancy, you must also focus on good dental care. That means a mix of receiving dental treatments and looking after your dental hygiene at home.
Why is Oral Health So Important During Pregnancy?
The main reason dental care is so crucial for pregnant women is that there is a strong link between gum disease and preterm birth. That is due to the bacteria from gum disease being able to reach the fetus after entering the bloodstream. If this happens, it can lead to multiple complications later down the line – premature birth can lead to health issues in infants, with babies who were born prematurely being at a high risk of experiencing health problems like asthma and even sudden infant death syndrome.
There are also specific changes in pregnancy that impact oral hygiene. A pregnant woman experiences increased hormone levels during the nine months of pregnancy, which leads to an increased risk of oral health issues. There’s also the issue of changing diet and cravings, with some women even experiencing strange cravings like wanting to eat toothpaste and chalk, which can, of course, harm your oral health.
Due to all this, dental care must be a regular part of health care for anyone pregnant to avoid adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Complications that Can Arise
It’s important to be aware of the most common complications that can arise while pregnant, so you have a better chance of preventing them. For pregnant women with poor oral health, here are the dental health problems that could occur.
Gum disease (or periodontal disease) is very common in pregnant women – in fact, up to 75% of pregnant women have early-stage gum disease, known as gingivitis. The symptoms of this include swelling, tenderness, bleeding, and redness of the gums. As mentioned before, this is a big issue due to the link between gum disease and premature birth. The risk worsens during the later stages of gum disease.
Pyogenic Granuloma refers to non-cancerous pregnancy tumors. These pregnancy tumors appear as small red bumps on the gums, which can lead to easier bleeding. They are reasonably common and thought to be because of the changing hormone levels during pregnancy.
Tooth decay is common in pregnancy due to morning sickness. When you vomit, your teeth get exposed to your stomach acid, which can lead to tooth erosion. This is very important to treat as soon as possible, especially considering that tooth decay can lead to infections, which are very dangerous while pregnant.
Another possible dental health issue in pregnancy is the loosening of the teeth, which occurs because of the high levels of particular hormones (including estrogen). The good news is that loose teeth are typically temporary, but you should still talk to your dentist if you’re worried that your teeth are becoming loose.
Looking After Your Oral Health During Pregnancy
There is no getting around just how critical dental care is while pregnant. You might wonder how exactly you can keep your teeth and gums in the best possible health. Here’s how.
Keep Up with Good Oral Hygiene
It’s important to look after your teeth and gums normally, but it’s especially important while pregnant. It might be hard some days (especially if you experience pregnancy tiredness), but it’s worth putting in the effort for. Ideally, brush your teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride twice a day and floss once a day to prevent the build-up of plaque.
Think Carefully About Your Diet
While you’re pregnant, it’s common to experience peculiar cravings. For some women, this may be as simple as craving a jar of pickles. For others, it might mean wanting to chew down on ice. While these cravings can be intense, it’s important to watch what you eat, avoiding foods known to cause tooth decay. Lots of fruits and vegetables are always good!
Visit Your Dentist
Your dentist will be able to spot the signs of gum disease and other dental problems quickly, in turn leading to faster treatment. To maintain the best oral health while pregnant, visit your dentist regularly. This might just be as simple as getting a check-up or involve receiving essential dental treatments that protect both you and the baby.
Treating Dental Problems During Pregnancy
As mentioned, it’s important to see your dentist while pregnant. This may sometimes mean receiving treatment like fillings or even tooth extraction. You might have a few questions about this. Can X-rays be used on pregnant women? What about local anesthesia?
Both X-rays and anesthesia can be used while pregnant. However, you must tell your dentist if you are pregnant so that they can make specific accommodations. You are also able to take medications such as antibiotics and painkillers while pregnant, but always speak to your doctor first.
Like with anything, prevention is always better than treating a problem. By keeping up with good oral hygiene while pregnant, you reduce the chances of experiencing issues such as gum disease or pregnancy tumors.