Oral Health and Pregnancy

Pregnancy oral health simply is about pregnant women taking care of their oral hygiene during pregnancy. What happens is, during pregnancy some women can develop gum disease and tooth decay. This is all due to an increase in hormones which results in a build-up of plaque, with the end result being one getting damaged gums.

There are quite a number of reasons behind some women experiencing bad dental health during pregnancy. We’ll share with you shortly what causes these dental infections during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Pregnancy Gingivitis is quite common and occurs in the second month of pregnancy. The gums look redder and bleed once brushed, other women experience severe swelling in their gums. The gingivitis is caused by progesterone which is a hormone that enables the growth of bacteria in gums. A break-down in the immune system can also be the cause of Pregnancy Gingivitis.

Pregnancy Granuloma (Pregnancy Tumour)

Another oral deficiency which causes irritation to the gums is Pregnancy Granuloma These are tiny nodules and can be found in the upper gum line. They’re usually accompanied by a cluster or ulcer too. Suspected causes are; trauma, viruses, hormones and malformed blood vessels.

A dryness in the mouth

Some women complain of a dry mouth during pregnancy. To produce saliva it’s recommended that pregnant women drink lot of water, take sugar-free candy or gum.

Erosion of the teeth With morning sickness and vomiting, the enamel at the back of the front teeth can be damaged.

An increase in saliva An increase in saliva is common as well in pregnant women. This condition usually disappears towards the end of the first trimester in pregnancy.

Some common signs of dental problems in pregnancy include: - A bad smell in breath. - Bleeding in gums during brushing - Loose teeth - Sores in the mouth. - Reddish/purple gums in colour. - Swelling in the gums - Pain and discomfort due to toothache.

These symptoms are far from pleasant! The great thing is they can be avoided and here’s how:

You can avoid dental difficulties during pregnancy by doing the following:

1) Brush your teeth with a toothbrush with soft bristles twice a day. You may floss once a day between the teeth. Brushing your teeth regularly will prevent the surfacing of plaque, tooth decay and periodontitis.

2) If ever you get morning sickness and feel too sick to clean your teeth then a mouth wash and some rinsing should do the trick. 3) Visit your dentist every six months especially during pregnancy. Eat as much healthy food as possible. This ensure that both you and your baby receive as much nutrients as possible. 4) You can eat sweets and sweet things but in moderation. A better suggestion would be to substitute them with fresh fruit and veggies.

We thought it would be great to share with you how to take care of your teeth during pregnancy.

Here’s a short list of things that will assist you in doing so.

§ Firstly, tell your dentist as well as doctor that you’re pregnant. And make them aware of the medication you’ve been using.

§ It’s important to tell your doctor and dentist all the medication you’re taking during pregnancy. Drugs such as tetracycline are harmful in the development of your baby’s teeth.

§ Although x-rays are much safer these days, attending to them could be risky for you and the baby. Try to stay away from them as much as possible.

§ Brush and floss your teeth twice a day to remove plaque. Not forgetting to scrap the tongue too!

§ An antimicrobial mouth wash is highly recommended during pregnancy as it helps prevent gingivitis.

Now for the lighter side of things, we’ve compiled an interesting list of myths and truths surrounding oral health and pregnancy.

Myth or Reality: Calcium in the baby’s teeth comes from the mother’s teeth.

Myth. Calcium is found in the mother’s diet not her teeth. Even if the mom consumes little calcium, there’s still a chance that it may be stored in her bones. It’s very crucial to have calcium and vitamin supplements should they be required.

Myth or Reality: Periodontal disease is common during pregnancy.

Reality. Periodical disease is common in pregnancy. What happens is the level of progesterone increases during pregnancy, progesterone being the primary catalyst in the development of Periodical disease. It causes inflammation to the gums and tissue during expectancy.

Myth or Reality: Unattended dental infections serve as a risk to the mother and foetus.

Reality. This it very true. What happens is due to oral bacteria, it can spread to other parts of the body including the placenta. That’s why dental visitations are extremely important.

Myth or Reality: For every pregnancy you lose a tooth.

Myth. Another myth. Yes, hormonal changes may cause inflammation of the gums and acid from morning sickness (vomiting) may damage the surface of the enamel. Frequent visits to the dentist as well as a healthy diet will ensure you a healthy, cavity-free pregnancy.

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