Dental Care During Pregnancy
There are so many things to think about during pregnancy, that dental health might not be at the top of your list. However, factors such as hormonal changes, or the possible side effects of certain medications, can have an adverse effect on the health of your teeth and gums. In turn, this may impact on the wellbeing of your baby.
Tips to be Healthier Mother and Baby
During pregnancy, the way you take care of yourself – from nutrition through to oral health – affects not just you, but also the development of your baby. In fact, as soon as you know you’re pregnant, there are things you can do to start caring for your baby’s teeth. These are already beginning to form during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
However, by knowing what to expect during pregnancy, you can take the steps required to minimise any possible risks. Through maintaining a good oral health regime at home, controlling cravings for sweet and sticky foods, and by visiting your Holistic Dental practitioner early on in your pregnancy, it’s easy to keep on top of your dental health.
In addition, the hormonal changes your body undergoes during pregnancy can cause a range of problems. For example, your gums may become tender, red and swollen or start to bleed. In turn, this can make you more susceptible to gum disease, which often becomes noticeable as early as the first trimester. Left untreated, Gum disease may result in a premature birth, which increases the risk of having a low-weight baby.
The following points should help you further understand the dos and don’ts of oral health during this exciting time of your life. We also hope that they dispel some common myths and reduce any unnecessary worrying.
Is it safe to get Dentistry Treatment During Pregnancy?
There’s an old myth that says you shouldn’t go the dentist while pregnant. This isn’t true, but at the same time, if you already maintain good oral hygiene practices, you are less likely to have dental health problems during pregnancy. On the other hand, if you have issues such as gum disease or an infected tooth, or have been thinking about elective procedures such as crowns or implants, you should have these attended to BEFORE you conceive.
During your pregnancy, you should stick to your regular schedule of check-ups with your Holistic Dental practitioner or dental cleanings with one of our hygienists; however you should also keep the following in mind:
- Please let us know that you are expecting a baby and bring a list of any medications you are taking – including pre-natal vitamins.
- Where possible, we will defer any dental treatments (as opposed to routine check-ups and gum disease treatments) during the first trimester and second half of the third trimester. These are the most critical times during the baby’s growth and development.
- Even though advances in technology have made dental X-rays much safer these days, we will avoid using them during your pregnancy. If they are essential due to a dental emergency, we will use additional caution and safeguards.
- In the last half of the third trimester, the uterus becomes very sensitive to external influences. You should try to avoid all dental procedures during this time.
Main Factors for Oral Health during Pregnancy?
Here’s an overview of some main changes you may experience in your oral health during your pregnancy:
- Pregnancy gingivitis – Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, combined with changes in your immune system, increase the likelihood that you’ll experience early stage gum disease (or gingivitis). It’s not uncommon that by the second month your gums may start to feel tender, become swollen, or bleed when you brush your teeth.
- If this occurs, you should make an appointment to see your Holistic Dental practitioner. Removing the build-up of plaque and calculus through professional cleaning will help treat, or prevent, gingivitis.
- Changes in saliva production – A number of different symptoms can lead to either excessive saliva production during pregnancy, or reduced production, which can result in an on-going dry mouth sensation. Some of the causes for these changes include nausea, vomiting, hormonal fluctuations and the side effects of medications.
In most cases, drinking plenty of water and chewing sugarless gum can help remedy the situation.
- Lump or growth on the gums – In the second or third trimester, it’s not uncommon for a ‘pregnancy epulis’ to develop. This is basically a localised swelling or benign (non-cancerous) growth that is caused by inflammation. It ranges in colour from pink to red and develops when swollen gums become irritated. A pregnancy epulis is not dangerous and usually subsides once the pregnancy is over. A balanced diet and minimising the acid in your mouth will help control it, however if it interferes with brushing, flossing or even eating, you should make an appointment to see your Holistic Dental practitioner. Depending on the condition of the pregnancy epulis, it may need to be removed.
- Effects of morning sickness – The nausea and vomiting experienced during morning sickness can result in stomach acid refluxing into the mouth. In cases of severe morning sickness, this can cause enamel erosion – especially to the back of your front teeth.
Brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting can further damage the enamel. Instead, you should rinse your mouth with plenty of water to dilute the acid. You can also use a mouth rinse or smear a little toothpaste over your teeth with your fingers before rinsing your mouth. In addition, try to avoid increasing the amount of acid in your mouth by staying away from soft and citrus fruit drinks.
What extra Nutrition require to keep Oral Health during Pregnancy?
When you’re pregnant, your baby gets its nutrients from your system. This means you need to take extra care about what you eat and drink when you are pregnant.
A balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables will help you maintain oral hygiene. As soon as you know you’re expecting a baby, it’s important to make sure you’re including a good deal of foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients will not only benefit you, but also assist the development of your baby’s teeth.
During pregnancy it’s common to start snacking more often, but try to limit the amount of sweet and sticky foods you eat. Look for healthier options such as fresh fruit and nuts; snack less often; or have something sweet after a meal instead of between meals. Rinsing your mouth after eating is also a good way to reduce the amount of sugar and acid left in the mouth that can cause tooth decay and lead to gum disease.
At Holistic Dental, we look forward to assisting you maintain good dental health during pregnancy, and help you build the foundations your baby needs for good, strong teeth and a properly functioning mouth.