Dentist visits aren’t usually on people’s priority lists, let alone those of mothers-to-be. However, due to the drastic hormonal shifts, pregnant women are greatly exposed to various gum issues, making good oral hygiene necessary during pregnancy. If this isn’t reason enough, know that a healthy oral hygiene can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, low birth weight and preterm labor, which is induced due to the production of prostaglandin chemicals by oral bacteria that travel to the uterus via the bloodstream.
Part 1: The Problems:
Some dental problems that pregnant women might face are explained below:
1- Pregnancy Gingivitis:
Gingivitis is caused by plaque buildup in the gums that hardens to form tartar. Characterized by irritation, bleeding and swollen gums, it is more common in pregnant women due to increased sensitivity to plaque as a result of excess hormones. To prevent this condition, brush twice a day near the gum-line with a small-headed, soft-bristled toothbrush and substitute sweet consumption with foods such as cheese, vegetables and fruit.
2- Pregnancy Tumors:
These are unalarming and benign growths resembling raspberries that form between the teeth due to hormonal changes during the 2nd trimester. While they normally disappear after childbirth, the tumors can easily be removed by the dentist in case of discomfort.
3- Enamel Erosion:
Morning sickness not only leaves a bad taste in the mouth, but can also leave behind stomach acids that damage the enamel. Moreover, acid reflux and heartburn during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters also increase the risk of enamel erosion. As a combative strategy, swish a mixture of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 cup of water for 1-2 minutes after a bout of morning sickness to neutralize the acids in your mouth, and brush with a good quality fluoride toothpaste.
4- Dry Mouth:
Dehydration and lack of saliva can expose the teeth to decay and infection. Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of fluids and boost saliva production by chewing sugar free gum, cheese and crunchy vegetables, such as carrots.
5- Loose Teeth:
The elevated levels of progesterone and estrogen hormones can loosen the ligaments and bones that anchor the teeth to the gums, resulting in a ‘loosened teeth’ sensation that commonly vanishes after pregnancy. However, tooth loss or extremely loose teeth are most likely due to a previously present issue and require dental consultation.
Part 2: The Dentist and You:
While a comprehensive dental checkup before pregnancy is highly recommended, you can also book an appointment between the 4th to 6th month instead, as some dental procedures might be harmful for the fetus during the 1st trimester.
Inform your dentist of your pregnancy before scheduling an appointment so they can make the necessary arrangements, if required. Discuss any and all prescribed medication that you are currently taking, including aspirin, to help your dentist determine the best course of treatment for any problem you might have. Also, do not exceed the prescribed dosage of any medication given by the dentist.
Contrary to popular belief, common procedures; namely x-rays, a root canal, tooth extraction, cavity filling, professional cleaning, and local anesthetics for these procedures are perfectly safe during the 2nd and early-3rd trimesters; the later months might increase chances of premature delivery. Although the radiation levels are low, your dentist will cover your body with a lead apron to protect the baby during a dental x-ray. You can also ask for a lead collar to avoid exposing your thyroid to radiation. However, tooth whitening and other cosmetic procedures should be postponed until after delivery.
Part 3: Healthy Eating:
Since tooth development starts in the 2nd trimester, include foods containing vitamin A, C and D, along with protein, calcium, and phosphorus (such as cheese, milk and yogurt) in your diet to facilitate bone, teeth and gum growth in your baby.
Part 4: After the Baby:
Continue with your oral health practices, and visit your dentist soon after delivery for a detailed periodontal (mouth) examination, and treatment of any gum problems that were previously untreatable during pregnancy.
The importance of dental hygiene in pregnant women should not be undermined. If you experience any dental issues during pregnancy, consult your dentist immediately, or book an appointment with a top Dental Specialist in Multan, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your gestational dental needs.