Effective dental care is important to sustain good oral and general health, especially for pregnant women. Taking care of your oral health during pregnancy is just as important as taking care of your body. This will ensure a healthy pregnancy without any complications. It will also help keep common dental problems away.
Below, we have provided you with an overview of everything you need to know about pregnancy and dental health; right from how it impacts your oral and general health and what treatment options are available for dental pain and infections during pregnancy.
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1] How does pregnancy affect your dental health?
Oral health during pregnancy is considered an integral part of prenatal care. If precautions are not taken, it might result in poor health outcomes for the baby and the mother. Pregnancy also leads to various changes in the body, which can affect their dental health and lead to cavities, tooth decay and bleeding gums.
For instance, there is an increase in the level of hormones such as progesterone and estrogen in the body during pregnancy. This can increase the risk of toothache during pregnancy caused by various factors such as abscess tooth, gum disease, impacted tooth and more.
Aggravated by the fluctuations in the hormones during pregnancy, nearly 60 to 75% of pregnant women suffer from an early stage of periodontal disease like gingivitis – wherein gums become red and swollen from inflammation. If not treated, the bone that supports the teeth may be lost, and the gums can be infected. The teeth with lesser bone support would eventually become loose and may need extraction.
- Pregnant women are known to experience pregnancy gingivitis and tooth decay in addition to gingival tissue ulcerations, pregnancy granuloma, pre-eclampsia, loose teeth, mouth dryness, and dental erosions owing to poor oral health.
- They are also at the risk of cavities, owing to changes in hormones as well as eating habits.
- Their eating habits are prone to change during pregnancy, as a result of which they may crave and consume certain foods that may affect their dental health.
- They may floss and brush their teeth with less frequency than before because of tender gums or fatigue.
- For some pregnant women, brushing and flossing might also cause nausea.
2] Why is oral health important during pregnancy?
Given below are a few reasons to prove the importance of oral health during pregnancy
- Bad oral health in pregnant women may lead to premature delivery.
- It can also lead to low birth weight, which can further cause multiple health issues in the baby.
- With insufficient oral hygiene, the expectant mother is also at a risk of developing pregnancy granuloma – a non-cancerous tumour developed on the skin or mucous membrane.
- Having a lot of cavity-causing bacteria while pregnant could cause these bacteria to transmit to the baby after delivery.
- Changes in eating habits can lead to a further increase in pregnancy hormones, which may lead to problems like gingivitis.
- Issues in oral health could lead to dental erosions, mouth dryness and loose teeth as well.
3] Are dental X-rays safe during pregnancy?
Undergoing dental x-rays while pregnant is safe as only a small amount of radiation is used. The dentist will cover you with a special apron and collar to protect you and your baby. Inform the dentist of your pregnancy before the dental X-ray. In most cases, dental x-rays are a part of routine dental check-ups and help diagnose problems related to the teeth, gums and supporting bones.
Read this blog to learn more about dental x-rays, the different types available, how safe they are and alternate options to dental x-rays.
4] How are dental problems treated during pregnancy?
If you are suffering from a dental problem that requires treatment, you must inform the dentist of your pregnancy or the fact that you’re planning to get pregnant. Depending on the condition, the dentist will recommend appropriate treatments.
During pregnancy, dental problems are treated through:
- Medication such as pain relievers and antibiotics to treat infections
Prenatal dental care is just as important as other medical check-ups. Depending on the type of dental problem and infection, the dentist will prescribe medications that are safe for you as well as your baby. It is important to note that while dental treatments can be administered at any time, the best time to undergo elective dental treatment during pregnancy is the second trimester (14 to 20 weeks). In the second trimester, the fetal organs are mostly developed, and the risks of any side effects are also lower.
For dental infections that cause major discomfort and pain, you need to visit a dental clinic immediately.
Anaesthesia administered by a medical practitioner is safe to use during pregnancy. Local anaesthesia may be used for dental filling or tooth extraction. You can undergo dental treatment at any time during pregnancy. However, if it is an elective treatment; a treatment you don’t require immediately, try to schedule it during the second trimester of your pregnancy.
5] What can pregnant women do to prevent dental problems?
As a pregnant woman, here is how you can keep your gums and teeth healthy:
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste
Use fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth twice a day with a toothbrush having soft bristles. Brushing twice a day and flossing once can remove plaque and ensure your teeth and gums remains healthy.
- Use antacids or rinse your mouth if brushing makes you nauseous
If brushing makes you nauseous, you can rinse your mouth to reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth. Antacids, on the other hand, are medicines that help neutralize stomach acid and can be bought over the counter in consultation with your prenatal care provider.
- Visit your dentist for a regular oral health check-up
Ensure you visit your dentist every six months (even during pregnancy) to enjoy optimal oral health and to avail treatment in case of dental health issues. Read this blog to understand the importance of visiting a dentist every 6 months.
- Eat healthily
Limit your sugar intake and ensure to eat healthy food for improved dental as well as overall health. Healthy foods include fruits and vegetables, whole-grain bread, lean meat, and dairy products. It is also essential to consume nutrients such as calcium, protein, and vitamins A, C, and D to ensure your baby’s teeth are healthy.
Oral health and pregnancy go hand in hand and a pregnant woman must take care of her oral health to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.
These tips will help you get through the very basic steps of regular dental care that you must follow during pregnancy. Owing to the fluctuation of hormones and changes in eating habits, pregnant women might suffer from compromised and weak dental immunity, which needs to be taken care of via thorough dental check-ups and an effective dental routine.
Need more information on oral health during pregnancy? Or have any queries? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Our team will be happy to assist you!