The surprising link between oral health and pregnancy
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January, 2018

The Surprising Link Between Oral Health and Pregnancy

The surprising link between oral health and pregnancy

Can Oral Health Have an Effect on Pregnancy?

Recent research indicates a link between gum disease and childbirth complications. Pregnant women who have gum disease may be more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small.

More studies are needed to confirm the exact correlation between gum disease during pregnancy and labor complications, but it appears that gum disease may trigger increased levels of biological compounds that induce labor. Data also suggests that when periodontal disease worsens during pregnancy, there's a higher risk of having a premature baby.

What Can I Do to Ensure I Have a Healthy Pregnancy?

Pregnancy and dental care are important for a healthy baby. Pregnant women and women who plan on getting pregnant should visit their dentist for a checkup and to treat any dental problems before conceiving.

Regular brushing and flossing, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly will help reduce pregnancy dental problems.

What Oral Problems Might Develop During My Pregnancy?

Many pregnant women experience pregnancy gingivitis — when dental plaque builds up on the teeth and irritates the gums. Symptoms include red, inflamed and bleeding gums.

Pregnancy gingivitis occurs due to increased levels of hormones that influence the way gums to react to the irritants in plaque.

Keeping your teeth clean, especially near the gum line, will help dramatically reduce or even prevent gingivitis during pregnancy. 

What Can I Expect When I Visit My Dentist During My Pregnancy?

First, be sure to let your dentist know you're pregnant when you schedule your appointment. It's best to schedule your dental visit during the fourth to sixth month of your pregnancy. Avoid seeing a dentist during the first three months of pregnancy, are thought to be of greatest importance in your child's development and the stress of a dental visit may be detrimental to the foetus.

Typically, X-rays, dental anesthetics, pain medications and antibiotics (especially tetracycline) are not prescribed during the first trimester, unless necessary. 

During the last trimester, prolonged sitting in a dental chair can become uncomfortable and a dental examination may be infeasible.

If you need to schedule an emergency visit, let the dentist know about your pregnancy before you arrive. Discuss any relevant medical history, stress factors, past miscarriages and medications you are taking as these can influence your dental care plan and outcomes.

Avoiding A Toothache During Pregnancy

It is recommended by dental specialists that women see a dentist before they plan a pregnancy. This way, the office can do a thorough checkup and cleaning, as well as treat any existing dental problems. Of course, you can also consult a dentist while pregnant.

When you experience a toothache or gum problems during pregnancy, see a dentist as soon as possible for treatment. Dental health issues can adversely affect your pregnancy and early intervention is important for both mother and child.

Avoiding Tooth Decay

Cavities are formed when the bacteria in your mouth use the sugars and carbohydrates present in food to produce acid, which dissolves the enamel on your teeth. 

Pregnant women are at increased risk for developing tooth decay due to a number of reasons: unhealthy food cravings, decrease in brushing and flossing and vomiting as a result of morning sickness can intensify the amount of acid in the oral cavity.

To prevent tooth decay, brush your teeth twice a day, using a soft brush and appropriate toothpaste. Keep sugary snacks to a minimum. Rinse your mouth with water when you aren't able to brush, and floss once a day. 

It's fairly common for an expecting mother to complain about bleeding gums when brushing or flossing. Hormonal changes that come along with pregnancy can cause inflammation, sometimes called pregnancy gingivitis. To keep this condition from developing into more serious gum disease, intensify your dental care routine by using an antibacterial mouthwash and seeing your dentist for more frequent cleanings.

Look Out for Gum Disease

Some pregnant women experience a raw-looking swelling of gum tissue called a "pregnancy tumor" grows between the teeth. These growths bleed easily and may be caused by excessive plaque. Consult a dentist if you suspect you have a pregnancy tumor, even though they are usually benign.

Another uncommon complication of pregnancy is loose teeth. This can develop due to hormones affecting the ligaments that hold the teeth in place.

Pregnancy dental care is an important part of your general health and the health of your baby. This is why, for a safe and healthy pregnancy, dentists and obstetricians encourage women to make their oral health a priority.

Oral hygiene maintenance during pregnancy

Unless it's a dental emergency, plan your dental visits throughout the entire pregnancy. Start by scheduling an appointment prior to becoming pregnant. That way, any necessary procedures can occur before you become pregnant. 

The first trimester isn't ideal for dental treatments as the fetus is in the initial stages of development. Instead, schedule non-emergency visits for the second trimester or early in the third trimester.

There a few experiences in a woman's life as special as being pregnant. Seeing a dentist while pregnant is often overlooked but it is important that you don't forget to maintain good oral health. That includes teeth cleaning while pregnant. 

Brush at least twice each day with good toothpaste and don't forget to floss, as it complements brushing by removing food particles that stick in places a brush can't reach. Taking care of your mouth ahead of time will allow you to focus on the joyful arrival of your child.


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