Pregnancy and Oral Health

Pregnancy is one of the happiest times in a mother’s life. Soon to be moms tend to read everything about child and infant care, pregnancy, breast feeding and anything relating to the topic, especially if they are pregnant with their first child, which is understandable; they are entering into new and uncharted territories. Mothers tend to do everything in their power to make sure that the fetus is healthy, and that it will result in a healthy child and the health of the mother is key in making sure that the offspring will also be healthy. Bad teeth, periodontal disease and other dental ills can make chewing painful, which may make eating difficult, which in turn can lead to fewer nutrients in the system. There are many rumors on the internet about the state of teeth during pregnancy, and it is against misinformation about such a crucial time that we offer this article.

Changes during pregnancy

Many people believe that once you’re pregnant, you can kiss your teeth good bye, as they will inevitably suffer. Many people have an image of the fetus leaching calcium from the teeth of the mother, and thus blame the increased need for calcium for their bad teeth. The reality is that bad habits that develop during pregnancy- craving sweets, irregular eating, snacking and a lax approach to oral hygiene are much more likely to be behind the increase of dental caries during pregnancy. Many times the reason for such laxness is the intense nausea that is associated with the first trimester; for many women, even brushing teeth can be a real problem. It is vitally important that women pay better attention to their teeth while expecting.      

The balance of your body changes when you are pregnant, it shifts towards building a human being first and foremost, and your body will prioritize creating a healthy fetus above all other things. The mothers system will be affected by the fetus’ needs and nutritional requirements. Your metabolism will increase and you will need to drink more water, your tissues and organs will be using up more oxygen, and your blood will be coagulate less, and you will need to take more minerals. Pregnancy also changes conditions in the mouth, and the oral environment will change during pregnancy.

A changing gingiva

Increased production of saliva, changes in the chemical makeup of saliva, the lessening of the antibacterial qualities of spit, together with the fact that the capillaries thin out and are much more likely to bleed through lead to a heightened risk of periodontitis and of bleeding gums.

Gums that are in this condition may be more sensitive and painful when brushing, leading to many women brushing less often, or brushing much more gingerly when brushing, that creates an environment in which plaque is more likely to stick, which leads to a net increase in the amount of bacteria in the mouth. We recommend getting a brush with soft bristles, and taking extra care when brushing the boundary between the tooth and the gum, and make sure you brush for two minutes at a time, morning and night, as well as after every major meal. Gum bleeding may not be indicative of an infection; it may be due to extra capillary action which is quite normal when pregnant.

pregnant-dental

 

Hormonal changes lead to the fibers in the womb becoming more elastic, and the same thing can be said of the collagen fibers that anchor teeth to the alveolus. When they loosen the teeth become a little bit more mobile, and this is completely normal. There is no need to worry if the mother was healthy before the pregnancy, and if regular oral health routines are maintained. Your regular firmness will return after the hormones clear from your system. Periodontitis, if left untreated, can quickly turn into alveolitis because of these factors. This is more serious than a case of bleeding gums. And can have adverse health effects for both the mother and the fetus. If this happens, you must see a dentist immediately. Morning sickness is another concern. The symptoms usually decrease after three months, and often stop altogether, but during those three months, the enamel of the teeth is at risk, as stomach acid corrodes tooth enamel. Make sure to use toothpaste with lots of fluoride, or invest in some fluoride gel or ointment, and use an interdental toothbrush, which will help remove acidic food detritus from the gaps in the teeth.

 

Dental procedures while pregnant

Moms are frequently afraid of dental procedures harming the fetus. As a general rule, the mother should only undertake dental procedures that are absolutely necessary, everything that can wait should wait until you are done breastfeeding, but most dental procedures are not bad for the fetus, but the extra taxation to the system is not necessary and should be avoided if possible.

Tooth whitening sessions and aesthetic procedures should wait, as they can be harmful to the fetus, and complex dental treatments like dental implantation are also best done after pregnancy, as they can overtax the immune system. Try and take as few medications and drugs as possible during this time.

Getting dental fillings, root canal treatments and extractions are considered necessary procedures, and they prevent infections from occurring, and are thus necessary to preserve the health of the mother and the fetus. Hygiene procedures are also recommended; you should get 2 of them while pregnant, one at the beginning of pregnancy, and one before you deliver.

The first trimester is of particular importance in the development of the fetus, as this is when the vital organs are produced. During this period, you should avoid all dental treatments. Emergency treatments are an exception, but make sure you tell your doctor that you are pregnant, and ask your gynecologist what medications you can and cannot take, and hand that list over to the dentist when going to see him/her. Try and avoid x-rays, only undergo it in a case of extreme emergency. Get a half year checkup while you are in the second trimester, as you may find that lying flat for extended periods of time may become difficult during the third trimester.

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