Pregnant? What to know about Oral Health
Oral health plays a role in the outcome of pregnancy, however, this often gets overlooked. Many pregnant women and healthcare providers are unaware of the importance of dental hygiene. In a recent survey from 2007-2009, 35% of women in the United States did not go to the dentist within the past year. In fact, 56% of women reported when they were pregnant, that they did not schedule dental appointments. When a woman gets pregnant, she becomes more susceptible to gum diseases and inflammation. This is exactly why pregnant women need to care for their dental hygiene more than she typically would. Maintaining dental hygiene in pregnancy can be an easy task by simply performing frequent brushing, scheduling dental visits, taking low sugar prenatal vitamins and watching her diet.
There are many contributors to declining tooth and gum health. Hormonal changes are very normal during pregnancy. For example, mood swings, weight gain, and other heightened sensory changes. In addition, hormonal changes experienced during a pregnancy can damage the health of the mothers gums, causing gingivitis. Gingivitis is the irritation of gums that bleed due to inflammation. Gingivitis is not a guaranteed issue in pregnancy, but can easily occur if the mother does not care for her teeth appropriately. Morning sickness can ruin a mother’s teeth as well. Stomach acid will enter the mouth, and can weaken the tooth enamel. Large amounts of acid wear off the minerals needed to have a strong enamel. Constant morning sickness will make it difficult for the enamel to repair itself. Prenatal vitamins can damage dental hygiene as well. They contain high amounts of sugar typically, and when the vitamins stick to a mother’s teeth, it can cause the teeth to decay and become damaged.
Some dental hygiene issues are very common for a pregnant woman to experience.. Gum inflammation will likely occur, especially during the second trimester. The same pregnancy hormones that cause mucus membranes to swell also inflame gums during this second trimester. Plaque build up is very common during pregnancy, however, it can be controlled, again by frequent brushing and flossing of their teeth. Plaque can be more common in a pregnant woman more so than any other man or woman who is not pregnant. During pregnancy, a woman’s body may not be able to fight off plaque, among other things, as easily. Pregnancy tumors are overgrowths of tissue that appear on gums, these are also common during the second trimester.
The majority of these dental issues can be controlled and managed. The more a pregnant woman brushes her teeth, the less risk she has of contracting any kind of infection. In addition, an expecting mother should brush her teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss gently once a day. Fluoride is known to prevent cavities and tooth decay. A pregnant woman should also continue to visit her dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and check-up. To help with plaque build up, an expecting mother should also ask her dental hygienist about antimicrobial mouth rinse, as it helps to prevent plaque build up. Another important approach to better dental hygiene is a healthy diet. Pregnant women should eat a large amount of low fat, healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, and dairy products. They should try to limit high sugar foods, such as candy, cookies, and drinks high sugar as well. Water consumption is very important as well.
A pregnant woman should also pay attention to when she should go to the dentist for checkups. Before a woman becomes pregnant, she should try to make an appointment. This way, all of her teeth are professionally inspected and cleaned early on. During the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy (first 13 weeks) the baby’s major organs develop. In addition, a pregnant woman should avoid getting any x-rays to avoid any complications with the fetus. Many doctors feel, it’s wise to postpone dental appointments until after the First Trimester while the safest time period to go to the dentist is during the Third Trimester. During this visit, they can advise you what you can do to prevent health problems after the baby is born.
Women should always pay attention to their teeth and dental hygiene while pregnant. Pregnancy creates a greater risk for infections, plaque build up, and inflammation. By brushing and flossing multiple times a day, taking specific prenatal vitamins, and watching her diet, a pregnant woman can help decrease these health issues, and protect her unborn child..