Oral Health & Pregnancy
ORAL HEALTH AND PREGNANCY
WHY IS ORAL HEALTH IMPORTANT DURING PREGNANCY?
Good oral hygiene is extremely important during pregnancy due to the increase of your hormone levels. This makes your mouth more vulnerable to dental problems caused by bacteria and plaque.
It is important to properly care for your oral health before, during and after pregnancy to safeguard your well-being and that on your unborn child.
By maintaining your oral health, you will reduce the risk of pregnancy complications caused by untreated dental problems.
WHAT ARE THE ORAL HEALTH COMPLICATIONS RELATED TO PREGNANCY?
Researchers have found that pregnancy can lead to dental problems in some women, including gum disease and higher risk of tooth decay.
Also the presence of dental conditions like gum disease or tooth decay can lead to premature birth with low birth weight. This conditions can be prevented with proper oral hygiene habits and visits with your dentist.
Among the dental conditions related to pregnancy we have:
- Gum disease: It is a set of inflammatory conditions caused by bacteria affecting the tissues surrounding the teeth.
It can have a variety of symptoms including:
- Bleeding and inflamed gums
- Bad breath
- Sensation of loose teeth
- Pus along the gums
- Tooth loss
The development of gum disease during pregnancy can increase the risk for pre-term labor and low birth weight babies. Babies who are born prematurely may risk a range of health conditions including cerebral palsy and problems with eyesight and hearing.
Estimates suggest that up to 18 of 100 premature births may be triggered by gum disease.
- Pregnancy tumor (Pyogenic granuloma): Pregnant women with presence of gum disease, may develop pregnancy tumors (Pyogenic granuloma). These tumors can cause pain and discomfort.
WHAT DENTAL TREATMENTS CAN BE DONE DURING PREGNANCY?
If dental work is done during pregnancy, the second trimester is ideal. Once you reach the third trimester, it may be very difficult to lay on the dental chair for an extended period of time.
The safest course of action is to postpone all unnecessary dental work until after birth.
Treatments such as fillings and crowns, should be treated to reduce the chance of infection, and sometimes emergency dental work, such as root canal or tooth extraction are necessary.
WHAT DENTAL PROCEDURES SHOULD I AVOID DURING PREGNANCY?
Medication: Lidocaine (local anesthesia) may have possible adverse effects on the baby. If dental work is needed, the amount of anesthesia administered should be as little as possible, but still enough to make you comfortable.
Antibiotics: may be prescribed by your dentist if necessary.
X-rays: They should be postponed until after birth.
HOW CAN I MAINTAIN A GOOD ORAL HEALTH DURING PREGNANCY?
There are some methods you could use in order to maintain a good oral health during pregnancy:
- Good oral hygiene habits
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- Floss between each tooth daily.
- Use mouthwash three times a day after each meal, ingredients of antimicrobial agents vary but can include; chlorhexidine 0.05%, chlorine dioxide, and zinc chloride.
- Tongue scrapers: As an aid to remove food remains in the back of the tongue.
- It is necessary to include calcium, vitamin C and B12 in your diet.
- If you suffer from morning sickness, rinse your mouth with plain, still water after you vomit and avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks between meals, to help prevent acid to attack your teeth.
WHEN SHOULD I VISIT MY DENTIST?
Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and professional cleanings. This is the best way to make sure you are maintaining good oral hygiene.
Preventive dental work while pregnant is essential to avoid oral infections such as gum disease.