Oral Care during Pregnancy

Table of Content

Oral Care During Pregnancy

Introduction

Pregnancy influences nearly every aspect of a woman's life, including the oral health. Diet and hormonal changes during pregnancy may increase a woman's risk for tooth decay and gum disease. This, in turn, could affect the health of the mother and/or her baby. Therefore, a healthy mouth is essential for a healthy pregnancy.

What is Oral Health?

The word "oral" refers to the mouth, which includes the teeth, tongue, gums, jawbones and supporting tissues. Good oral health does not mean just having good teeth; the whole mouth (including the gums, tongue, tissues, etc.) needs to be in good health. Taking care for good oral health can prevent disease in the mouth and, thus, could help avoid any problem during pregnancy.

How Does Pregnancy Affect Oral Health?

Changes during pregnancy can alter the oral health as follows:

Morning Sickness (Vomiting or Nausea) During Pregnancy

  • Causes the stomach acid to weaken the tooth enamel (the hard surface of teeth) and increases the risk for tooth decay.
  • Makes it difficult to brush, thereby increasing the risk for tooth decay and gum disease.

Hormonal Changes During Pregnancy

  • Causes more germs to grow in the mouth, can cause infection and can make the gums sore and swollen, or bleed.
  • Causes the mouth to be drier. Less saliva or spit can increase the risk tor tooth decay.

Eating Habits During Pregnancy

  • Eating more frequently during pregnancy can increase the risk for tooth decay, especially if the food is sugary or starchy.

What are the Common Oral Problems in Pregnant Women?

Certain oral problems can arise during pregnancy and it is important to get these problems treated effectively. The common problems during pregnancy are as follows:

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Gingivitis means disease of the gums. It is the most common dental concern during pregnancy and is caused by germs that form between the teeth and gums. It causes the gums to become red, swollen and tender. It can also lead to bleeding gums while brushing and flossing (the process of using a thin nylon or plastic string to remove food stuck in between the teeth).

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal means "surrounding the teeth". Pregnancy gingivitis, if left untreated, can progress into periodontal disease. It is a severe gum infection, which destroys the bones, gums and fibres that help to keep the teeth in place. It can cause very unpleasant side effects such as bleeding from the gums and tooth loss. Periodontal disease is of particular concern during pregnancy as it increases the risk for early delivery (premature birth) and low birth weight of the baby.

Non-Cancerous Pregnancy Tumour

Pregnancy tumours can form in case of pregnancy gingivitis or periodontal disease. These are non-cancerous and grow on the gums. They are not dangerous but can sometimes make it hard to speak, eat and swallow, and may cause pain. These disappear after the baby is born and, if needed, the dentist can remove them before the birth of the baby in case of any discomfort.

Tooth Erosion (Decay)

In women with severe morning sickness, frequent vomiting can erode the hard surface of the teeth. This is due to the stomach acid, which, during vomiting, comes up in the mouth and causes the teeth to degrade.

How Does Oral Health Affect Pregnancy?

If proper oral care is not taken during pregnancy, the germs from the mouth may spread to the entire body. These germs can cause premature birth or low birth weight ot the baby. Poor oral health during pregnancy can also cause harm to the mother by increasing the risk for diabetes (high sugar in blood) or pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure) during pregnancy.

How to Take Care of the Mouth When Pregnant?

Just brushing the teeth is not enough for good oral health. Some tips for good oral health are as follows:

Changes in Eating Habits

  • Eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet with plenty of protein, calcium and vitamins A, C and D is important for the health of the mother and the baby.

     

  • Eating small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day such as dairy products (yoghurt or cheese), fruits and vegetables, all of which are rich in calcium and which help to keep the teeth in good health.

  • Cutting down on sweets such as candies, cookies and sugary drinks decrease the chances of cavities (small holes in the teeth).

  • Drinking lots of water, especially between meals and after snacks, to keep the mouth clean.

  • Avoiding diet sodas and carbonated drinks as they are acidic in nature and may cause tooth decay.

Taking Core of the Mouth in the Following Ways

  • Brushing teeth, especially along the gums, twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least 2 minutes each time.

  • Using a small toothbrush with soft bristles, which will help to prevent any injury to the gums.
  • Rinsing the mouth every time after eating.
  • Flossing at least once a day.

  • Using an antibacterial mouthwash - this can help destroy germs that contribute to gingivitis.
  • To prevent acid erosion of teeth, rinsing the mouth with water immediately after vomiting.
  • To neutralize the acid in the mouth, rinsing with water containing baking soda could also help.

Dental Visit for on Oral Check-Up

  • Visiting the dentist at least once during pregnancy is important. It is safe and can help to have a healthy baby.
  • A visit is essential in case of toothaches or blood or pus around the gums, as this could be due to an infection.

Is it Advisable to Take Dental Treatment During Pregnancy?

  • Dental work is safe at any time during pregnancy, but it may be more comfortable during the second trimester.

  • If possible, major procedures and treatment should be avoided until after the baby is born.
  • Most common medicines can be used during pregnancy. However, some medications such as sedatives and certain antibiotics should be avoided.
  • Consult the dentist / doctor before taking any medications during pregnancy. Self-medication should be strictly avoided.

Do's

  • Rinse the mouth every time after eating.
  • Brush and floss regularly.
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash.
  • Visit the dentist at least once during pregnancy.

Don'ts

  • Have excess sugary and starchy food.
  • Have carbonated beverages.
  • Take medications without consulting the dentist/doctor.
  • Ignore oral health.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR.

 

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