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Pregnancy and oral health

Pregnancy and dental health

It’s an old wives’ tale that going to the dentist while pregnant is risky for developing babies and moms-to-be. In fact, just the opposite is true – good dental hygiene is part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone. The mouth is a major gateway to the blood vessels and digestive system. As such, your oral health can be a good indicator of your overall health.

Still, many pregnant women have questions about whether dental care during pregnancy is safe. It’s understandable moms want to do everything right for their babies, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. In fact, our office gets so many questions that we put together a standard blog that addresses patients’ concerns.

We at pearl dental clinic are here to guide you in breaking some of the common fears faced by pregnant women with regards to their dental health.

Importance of good oral health during pregnancy:

Pregnancy is not a disease state but instead it is a sign of being healthy. A healthy person is not expected to lose their teeth without any reason. The same rules are valid for pregnant women. If you take some simple precautions you will not have any loss of teeth or other dental problems. Nevertheless, mothers are known to face tooth decay and gum problems during pregnancy.

Due to bad oral health in pregnancy, pregnant women can experience premature delivery, low birth weight baby, pre-eclampsia, gingival tissue ulcerations, pregnancy granuloma, gingivitis, pregnancy tumors (epulis gravidarum), loose teeth, mouth dryness, and dental erosions. The changing hormone levels in pregnancy directly affect gum problems, and indirectly, tooth decay.

How does pregnancy affect your dental health?

Changes in your body during pregnancy can affect your teeth and gums. For example:

● You have increased levels of certain hormones, like progesterone and estrogen, in your body during pregnancy. These can increase your risk for certain oral health problems.

● Your eating habits may change. You may eat more of certain foods during pregnancy than you did before you were pregnant. The kinds of food you eat can affect your dental health.

● You may brush and floss your teeth less than you did before you got pregnant. This may be because your gums are tender or you’re more tired than usual. For some women, brushing and flossing may cause nausea (feeling sick to your stomach).

These changes can increase your risk for certain dental problems during pregnancy,including:

Cavities (also called tooth decay or caries). These are small, damaged areas in the surface of your teeth. Being pregnant makes you more likely to have cavities. You can pass the bacteria that causes cavities to your baby during pregnancy and after birth. This can cause problems for your baby’s teeth later in life.

Gingivitis. Gingivitis is inflammation (redness and swelling) of the gums. If untreated, it can lead to more serious gum disease. Pregnancy hormones can increase your risk for gingivitis. 60 to 75 percent of pregnant women have gingivitis.

Signs and symptoms include:
● Redness and swelling
● Tenderness in the gums
● Bleeding of the gums, even when you brush your teeth gently
● Shiny gums
● Loose teeth.

High levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy can temporarily loosen the tissues and bones that keep your teeth in place. This can make your teeth loose and if untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease. This causes serious infection in the gums and problems with the bones that support the teeth. Your teeth may get loose, and they may have to be extracted (pulled). Periodontitis can lead to bacteremia (bacteria in the bloodstream), which is a serious condition and would require immediate treatment.

Pregnancy tumors (also called pyogenic granuloma) are lumps that form on the gums, usually between teeth. Pregnancy tumors look red and raw, and they bleed easily. They can be caused by having too much plaque (a sticky film containing bacteria that forms on teeth). These tumors usually go away on their own after giving birth. In rare cases they may need to be removed by your health care provider.

Tooth erosion. If you have vomiting from morning sickness (also called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy or NVP) , your teeth may be exposed to too much stomach acid. This acid can harm the enamel (the hard surface) of your teeth.

What are signs and symptoms of dental problems during pregnancy?

If you have any signs or symptoms of dental problems, call your dentist.
Signs and symptoms of dental problems include:
Bad breath
● Loose teeth
● Mouth sores or lumps on the gums
● New spaces between your teeth
Receding gums (when your gums pull away from your teeth so you can see roots of your teeth)
● Gums that are red, swollen, tender or shiny; gums that bleed easily
● Toothache or other pain

If you have pain or swelling, call your dentist right away. If you have an infection, you need quick treatment to help prevent problems for your baby.

How can you prevent dental problems during pregnancy?

Get regular dental checkups before and during pregnancy.
● At your checkups, tell your dentist if you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, about any medicine you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, supplements and herbal products.
● If your pregnancy is high-risk.Your pregnancy may be high-risk if you have a chronic health condition, you have complications from a previous pregnancy or you have other conditions that can harm your health or the health of your baby.
● If your prenatal care provider has talked to you about your oral health Dental checkups before and during pregnancy are important so your dentist can find and treat dental problems early. And regular teeth cleanings help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Some common questions about your dental health during pregnancy debunked!!!

1. Are dental X-rays safe during pregnancy?
Yes. X-rays are part of regular dental care. Dental X-rays can show problems with your teeth, gums and the bones around your mouth. An X-ray is a medical test that uses radiation to make a picture on film. Radiation is a kind of energy that can be harmful to your health if you’re exposed to too much. Dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy. They use very small amounts of radiation, and your dentist covers you with a special apron and collar to protect you and your baby. If your dentist wants to give you an X-ray, make sure she knows that you’re pregnant or trying to
get pregnant.

2. Are medicines and Local anesthesia safe during pregnancy ?
Medicine, like pain relievers and antibiotics to treat infections are commonly prescribed during routine dental treatments. Your dentist can give you medicine that’s safe for you and your baby during pregnancy. If your dentist prescribes you medicine, tell you prenatal care provider. Don’t take any medicine without talking to your prenatal provider first. Local anesthesia is used in a specific part of the body, like to numb your mouth for a dental
filling or to have a tooth pulled. This medicine is safe to use during pregnancy.

3. When should you meet the dentist when your pregnant?
The ideal number of dental checks in the 1st trimester is two, and one in the second and third trimester. After a good evaluation at the first check, it should be checked whether oral hygiene is provided in the 2nd trimester and the planned treatment should be performed in this period (e.g. tooth extraction, filling).

So it’s safe to undergo routine scaling and tooth cleaning procedures throughout pregnancy. Any elective procedures are scheduled during the second trimester . And long procedures are generally avoided during late pregnancy.

4. How Do I Keep My Baby’s Teeth Healthy?
Your baby’s teeth are fully formed before they are born, but are not visible as the gums cover them. You can help your baby to develop strong teeth and bones by eating healthy foods during pregnancy and getting enough calcium and vitamin D. After your baby is born, it is important to continue to take care of your dental health. Bacteria that causes tooth decay may be passed to your child through saliva.

To prevent passing bacteria to your baby’s mouth:
● Brush and floss your teeth every day.
● Use a different spoon to test your baby’s food, and avoid sharing toothbrushes.
● If you have chosen to use a pacifier, clean it with soap and water instead of your mouth.
● Visit the dentist at least twice a year.

5. What is the Diet recommended for healthy teeth and gums during pregnancy?
• Fruits, vegetables, cereal, milk, dairy products, meat, fish and eggs that are rich for A, C, D vitamins, calcium and phosphorus must be taken in a balanced diet.
• Sugar should be avoided as much as possible, especially between meals.
• Dried fruit and toffees should be avoided.
• Nutrition during this period affects the health of the mother, as well as the baby, that is going to be born.
• Smoking and alcohol consumption should be avoided as it could be detrimental to the health of your baby.

We hope we have given you a basic understanding about your dental health during pregnancy and we look forward to help you more at pearl dental clinic. Meet us for all your dental related queries and treatments.

To know more about pregnancy and oral health please visit us at Pearl Dental Clinic

Dr. Shirley Newman
BDS, MDS
Pediatric Dentist
Pearl Dental Clinic Dubai

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