The Importance of Oral Hygiene during Pregnancy
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Pregnancy is one of the most crucial phases in a woman’s life. Her body goes through many physical changes that are essential to assist the baby’s development in the womb. The changes also affect dental health to an extent, and so it becomes essential for the would-be mother to take good care of her oral hygiene.

Whilst most pregnant women may not be able to follow good oral practices, it becomes quite essential to educate them about the numerous benefits it has on their overall health.

How does pregnancy increase the risk for dental problems?

The increasing level of hormones during the pregnancy phase can lead to swollen gums. This can trap food and may cause gum infection or disease. The gum problems may worsen during pregnancy if a would-be mum is already suffering from any gum problems.

Gingivitis is an alarmingly common occurrence in pregnant women. More than 50% of women develop gingivitis during pregnancy. It’s gum inflammation, which results in redness, swelling, and tenderness in the gums. However, if proper care is practised to control gingivitis, it may reduce or ultimately end post-pregnancy.

Periodontal gum disease is another gum disease that can adversely affect a pregnant woman. Considered a severe infection of the gums and bones that support your teeth, Periodontitis should be treated immediately. If left unaddressed, it can lead to loss of a tooth or teeth. The pregnant woman may even develop abscesses, that are reasonably painful.

As per medical research, the bacterium contains prostaglandin, a chemical that enters the bloodstream and affects the foetus. This can increase the risk of preterm labour. Yet another study states that women suffering from periodontal disease are at an increased risk of preeclampsia.

Yet another hormone-driven concern is morning sickness. The acid content present in vomit can affect or eat the tooth enamel. And it is morning sickness that makes pregnant women less likely to brush their teeth since nausea and gag reflex are pretty strong.

What are the common dental problems during pregnancy?

In addition to Gingivitis and Periodontitis that can occur during pregnancy, the following are also common:

  • Cavities: Due to insufficiency of calcium and other vitamins during pregnancy, there are chances of tooth decay or damage. Any permanently damaged areas around teeth can develop tiny holes where food particles may get stuck, causing bacterial growth.
  • Pregnancy Tumours: Also called a pyogenic granuloma, pregnancy tumours are red, raw-looking overgrowth of tissue on the gums. Present between the teeth, these tumours tend to bleed easily. In addition, plaque formation and aggregated hormones can cause gum tissues to swell. However, in most cases, after childbirth, once hormone levels are back to normal, the tumours disappear on their own.
  • Wobbly Teeth: At times, high levels of hormones can temporarily loosen the tissues and bones that keep your teeth in place.

Whilst it is advised to take extra care during pregnancy regarding dental care, the same should be followed even after pregnancy as the body gradually gets back to normal. Just like you schedule your visit to your gynaecologist for check-ups, visiting your dentist should be given an equal priority. Based on your diagnosis, your dentist may advise any changes.

What can be done to maintain oral hygiene during pregnancy?

As per studies, there is a strong link between oral health and pregnancy issues like preterm delivery or low birth weight of the child. During pregnancy, increased levels of certain hormones like oestrogen and progesterone increase the risk of various dental problems.

Therefore, it is recommended that you visit your dentist for any dental problems you may have during pregnancy. Also, you must inform your dentist beforehand about your pregnancy so that the dentist may take caution and provide you with the treatment accordingly.

Here are 10 important tips for maintaining good oral health during pregnancy.

  1. Avoid consuming anything that can worsen the condition of your gums
  2. Brush twice every day with a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
  3. Floss your teeth three times a week to clear any food particles or plaque in the teeth
  4. Rinse your mouth with a dentist-recommended mouthwash to prevent gingivitis
  5. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, containing fruits and green leafy vegetables
  6. Avoid overeating – have shorter meals throughout the day
  7. Avoid consuming junk food items or carbonated drinks
  8. Consult your dentist for any dental problem before they get worse
  9. Do not share your utensils or food to avoid transmission of bacteria
  10. Schedule regular dental checkups throughout your pregnancy

In addition, the would-be mum can go for diagnosis and specialised treatment after proper consultation with their dentist.

  • X-ray: If there is a need for an X-ray, the pregnant woman should inform the dentist about their pregnancy, so that they use a lead apron for protecting the developing foetus and thyroid.
  • Extraction or fillings: There is no risk involved in tooth extraction or filling procedure as local anaesthetics are safe to be used in pregnancy.
  • Dental Procedure: It is always good to prefer the second or third trimester when there is not much vomiting or gag reflex and nausea for any dental procedures.

By following the recommended oral hygiene practices and taking the suggested precautions during pregnancy, a lot of complications like premature birth or babies born with low birth weight can be avoided. The chance of passing on any dental infection from mother to the baby is also minimised.

If you are in Harrow or nearby, you can pop in to the Complete Smiles practice – a well-established and advanced dental care surgery with highly professional dentists and surgeons who are well-experienced and extra sensitive towards the specific requirements of patients.

Open seven days a week with flexible opening hours, Complete Smiles provides professional dental treatments in a patient-centric surgery that offers 0% interest-free finance plans to its patients. For more information, please get in touch today!

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