Perhaps not unaware to many, pregnancy involves massive hormonal shifts. However, what many do not know is that these hormonal changes also heighten the risk of gum diseases, tooth decay, and other dental problems. This makes it very crucial to pay close attention to your teeth and gums before, during, as well as after your pregnancy. You can ensure sound dental health throughout your pregnancy simply by following proper hygiene at home as well as by seeking medical assistance from your dentist. Backed by studies from leading researchers at US National Institute of Medicine, National Institute of Health, what makes this even more important is that your dental issues during pregnancy can also affect the health of your baby. Here are some of the tips that you can follow to prevent any mishap during pre or post pregnancy:
Dental care before pregnancy
It is advisable to make a dental appointment before you plan your pregnancy. Most women are ignorant of the association between gum disease in pregnancy and premature birth with low weight, which can consequently lead to several health complications for your baby. It is wise to take precautions well in advance.
This appointment will ensure professional cleaning of your teeth, a thorough examination of your gum tissues, as well as treatment of any oral health problems that you might have.
Dental care during pregnancy
First and foremost, you should inform not only your doctor but also your dentist about your pregnancy. If he feels the need for an urgent procedure, that should be taken care of immediately. However, it is advisable to postpone the more complicated dental procedures until the delivery is done, and no treatment should be provided during the first trimester and second half of the third trimester. Make sure you intimate your obstetrician about your appointment with the dentist so that he/she can let you know about any special instructions or precautions.
- If you are taking any drugs (including medications and prenatal vitamins) your dentist should be brought up to speed about their names and dosages. Also, any specific advice given to you by your doctor should also be conveyed to the dentist. This information will determine if your dentist needs to alter your treatment plan in any way.
- In case you need to get dental x-rays done, you need not be worried since dentists exert sufficient caution to ensure absolute safety for you and your baby. Thanks to technological advancement, X-rays are no longer as risky as they used to be, even until about a couple of decades ago or so.
- It is never a good idea to give a miss to your dental check-up during pregnancy. Due to remarkable hormonal changes, you might experience conditions such as periodontal diseases pregnancy gingivitis (bleeding from tender gums), pregnancy epulis or pyogenic granuloma. These are caused by a rise in hormone levels, and not necessarily due to plaque. You should brush at least twice every day, with a softer toothbrush and a toothpaste containing fluoride. This increases the importance of regular periodontal exams if you notice any changes in your gums while you are pregnant, immediately bring them to your dentist’s notice. No tenderness, bleeding, or gum swelling at any stage of your pregnancy should be neglected. In worse cases, if it is found that you had developed some gum disease at a deeper level, dentists may need to resort to intraosseous drill for dental procedures to be administered on you.
- Following healthy dental practices is a must to prevent/reduce oral health issues.
- If you are suffering morning sickness, you might find it difficult to brush your teeth. In that case, you can consider switching to a toothpaste that tastes bland, of course, after consulting your dentist.
- Morning sickness with or without frequent vomiting makes it all the more important to rinse your mouth out with water or a mouth rinse, since your teeth, followed by exposure to stomach acid due to vomiting, is considerably weakened.
- Sugary snacks are a strict no-no, despite bouts of sugar craving that are common during pregnancy. You should bear in mind that indulgence in such snacking makes you more susceptible to tooth decay. Rather, you can opt for fresh fruits or other snacks that are low on sugar.
- It is very important to follow a healthy and balanced diet. It might be unknown to many that a baby’s first teeth start developing about three months into pregnancy. In order to ensure that your baby’s newly formed teeth, gums, and bones are in their best form, you need to choose a healthy diet comprising dairy products, cheese, yogurt, etc. Note that vitamin D facilitates the use of calcium in the body. Some of the major sources of vitamin D include cheese, fortified margarine, salmon and other fatty fishes, eggs, etc.
Dental care after pregnancy
As suggested by leading online medical journal WebMD, if, during your pregnancy, you were suffering from any gum problems, visit your dentist immediately after the delivery as well. He will examine your mouth thoroughly to evaluate your periodontal health.
- If you are breastfeeding, do not be worried about x-rays, local aesthetics or nitrous oxide, as these are completely safe
- Your baby’s gums should be gently wiped every time you breastfeed or bottle-feed him
- As soon as your baby’s first tooth comes out, start using just about a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste for her
- Make sure you do not allow any remnants of milk or juices to stay in your baby’s mouth, since these contain sugar, and are often the early causes of cavities, even amongst infants
- Never let your baby sleep with milk or juice
- As caregivers/parents, it is imperative for you to maintain proper oral hygiene. Note that you can end up spreading germs even through sharing spoons, kissing, etc. You should also get their teeth checked regularly for early detection of cavities and other dental issues.
In the excitement of having your baby, don’t neglect dental care. Make sure you take good care of your gums and teeth not only before but also during and after your pregnancy. Penning down an age-old quote, ” Prevention is better than cure ”