Dental Care in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a magical experience. But along with it comes a myriad of health issues which a woman needs to pay attention to. Among these conditions are problems related to oral hygiene and dental health. A pregnant woman must ensure that her dental health is well maintained to avoid any complications to her growing fetus. There is a research which indicates that a pregnant woman with a gum infection has increased chances of delivering a premature baby with a low birth weight with an increased risk of triggered periodontal disease.
Care must be taken to ensure that the dental products used are safe and effective for your gum type and dental condition. A proper consultation with a certified dentist is a must to understand the effects of poor dental hygiene on the pregnancy. The most prevalent dental problems observed in pregnant women are:
Tooth Decay: This is due to the increased acidity in the mouth during pregnancy. Frequent nausea and vomiting also increases the gastric acid in the mouth resulting in the decay of teeth.
Loose Teeth: In a pregnant woman, the levels of pregnancy hormones (progesterone and estrogen) are very high. This results in loosening of the ligaments and tissues supporting the teeth leading to loosening of teeth during pregnancy. This may be in addition to or in the absence of teeth decay.
Gum related problems: The increased pregnancy hormones in addition to loosening the teeth also cause a certain degree of superficial gum inflammation. This if left untreated or uncared for might lead to pre-term birth and baby with a low birth weight.
Pregnancy epulis: This is a condition where the pregnant woman experiences localized enlargement of gums which is susceptible to bleeding and vulnerable to infections. This would require a higher level of professional care and expurgation in certain cases.
What to do?
Routine dental check-upsIt is always beneficial to have a routine dental check-up and not wait until there is a discomfort or problem. During pregnancy, it is all the more essential to keep your dentists visits regular. Keeping the dentist aware of any medical condition relevant to your pregnancy and any unusual symptoms might help them in helping you maintain a good oral hygiene and use the right kind of oral products.
Cleaning more oftenPregnancy increases the chances of gingivitis. To maintain a good oral hygiene, a pregnant woman must clean and rinse the mouth more often to remove any food residue or acid build up.
Following a healthy oral regimeAlong with regular brushing and flossing, a pregnant woman must follow a higher degree of care. Regular rinsing of mouth with water and with a mouthwash to eliminate plaque, germs and acid build up. It is not advisable to brush teeth immediately after vomiting as it increases the risk of damage to the gums due to the high level of acidity present in the vomit.
Right choice of oral productsA soft bristled toothbrush coupled with good fluoridated toothpaste must do the trick! Brushing twice daily with a dentist recommended toothpaste and regular dental flossing is very essential to ensure that there are no leftover food particles and germs in the teeth. The toothbrush must have a small head as that of a toddler to ensure maximum coverage. The brushing should be done slowly and carefully so as to reach all the regions inside the mouth. Rinsing mouth with a solution of baking soda and water also helps in curbing acidic buildup.
Right dietWhile it is normal for a pregnant woman to crave for all kinds of food, limiting the cravings to healthy food options and opting less sugary and more nutritious food like fruits and vegetables.
Is it safe to go to the Dentist during Pregnancy?
Along with a healthy diet, physical health and exercise, oral health is also of augmented importance for a healthy pregnancy. While the former is taken care of by almost all the pregnant woman, oral hygiene is not given much heed or importance during pregnancy. Till the time there is any discomfort or pain, Indian women don’t plan dental consultations.
Oral hygiene and health is as much important as that of the other parts of the body. Regular visits to dentists would not only ensure that the patient takes care of her fillings and cleaning procedures before the baby is born but also help in treating any underlying dental conditions which might otherwise affect the fetus.
It is very essential that a lady informs about her pregnancy as soon as possible to her dentist. Her complete medical history along with the pregnancy report and the medications taken by her and prescribed to her by her doctor must be carefully listed out to the dentist so that he can schedule/reschedule or postpone certain treatments. There are certain queries and doubts every pregnant woman has when fixing a dental appointment.
Let us try addressing some most common queries and concerns
Anesthetics: The normal filling and root canal procedures involve the usage of anesthetics to numb the area. This practice is very safe for pregnant women and there has been no negative effects observed due to using them on both the patient and her fetus.
Dental X-Rays: It is common to hear that exposure to x-rays might affect the health of the fetus and might cause abnormalities. However, it has been observed that dental x-rays taken with proper protection and protective shield is absolutely harmless on the fetus. Before taking such tests, the patient must inform the dentist about her pregnancy and how far she is in order for the dentist to make a known decision on conducting the tests.
Medication: Again, informing the dentist about the pregnancy would enable him in determining the kind of medication that can be prescribed to the patient, if needed. Asking questions and understanding about the different medications prescribed would put you at ease. Enabling the dentist to consult with the gynecologist would help the dentist in choosing the right kind of medication and dosage without affecting or causing any discomfort to the fetus.
Pregnancy and Oral Health
Though there are many cases of women not facing any dental issues during the course of pregnancy, some women are not so lucky. The commonly faced dental conditions during pregnancy are Pregnancy Epulis, Gum related problems, Loosening of Teeth, and Tooth Decay. Most of these happen due to the high levels of pregnancy hormones and usually go back to normal post delivery. In some cases however, an untreated dental issue can lead to bigger complications for both the patient and her fetus.
Pregnancy Gingivitis: This is one of the widely found dental conditions. The patient will experience an inflammation in the gums couples with tenderness. It bleeds when flossed or cleaned. This condition happens due to increased hormonal levels and might become severe if left untreated.
Tooth decay: Another prevalent tooth related problem during pregnancy is the risk of decay. Increased levels of sugar and carbohydrate intake due to the pregnancy cravings and increase in acid levels in mouth due to the common morning sickness leads to eroding of teeth enamel and fro there decay of teeth.
Pregnancy tumors or are Pregnancy Epulis: These are local inflammation or tumor like eruptions in the gums raw in appearance with a tendency to bleed occurring due to plaque build-up. This is also a result of high carbohydrate intake and usually go away post delivery.
While it is important to be very careful when it comes to pregnancy, putting off dental health can cost you the health of the fetus and might sabotage your health also. It might also lead to irreparable conditions in the future.
Breastfeeding: 6 things nursing moms should know about dental health
Breastfeeding is the first means of bonding between an infant and the mother. There are so many advantages of breastfeeding with building immunity and personal bonding topping the list of benefits. What we do not know is the impact of breastfeeding on the dental health of the infant and its mom. It is fascinating to note the various benefits nursing an infant have on the baby’s dental health.
Let’s read further to understand more about breastfeeding and dental health.
Breastfed babies have 72% less chances of have crooked or malformed teeth. There are however other reasons which might lead to malocclusion at a later stage like the usage of pacifiers, thumb sucking and genetics.
Reduced risk of Tooth Decay
The more the baby is kept away from bottle; the lower is its risk of tooth decay. Bottle fed babies pose the risk of exposing their newly formed teeth and sensitive gums to sugary fluids for a longer duration. This paves way for tooth decay. Prolonging breastfeeding would ensure that the babies don’t have sugary formulas and juices for longer durations in their mouth. Never ever put the baby to bed with a bottle. Lesser bottles also mean lesser risk of infection due to the germs in the feeding bottle.
Breastfeeding and Mother’s Health
Till the time a mother delivers a baby, she takes care of her health. From the moment the baby is born, she neglects her health. This would mean more stress, less time to eat and drink water and less dental care. This is very dangerous as it might pass on infections to the newborn. Breastfeeding a baby ensures that the mother takes complete care of her personal hygiene. Also, when a mother breastfeeds, she feels the urge to drink lots of fluids.
This would help her a lot by rehydrating the body as well as preventing gum diseases and cavities due to a dry mouth. Further, by taking care of herself, she also gets a bit of “me” time which can help in distressing her and minimizing the risk of dental damage due to bruxism or grinding teeth which is a predominant side-effect of stress. Apart from all these, breastfeeding prevents the risk of breast cancer in the nursing mother.
Nursing and cavities
While it is true that breastfeeding reduces the risk of cavities due to bottles, it can still lead to dental infection as even natural milk contains sugar. It is thus advisable that the newborn should not be left to sleep while feeding there is a possibility of remnant milk in the mouth if the baby sleeps off before swallowing.
Breastfeeding and Dental procedures
It is very important to note that while dental health is very important for nursing mothers, it is also important that any procedures or dental treatments must happen after a careful investigation by a certified practitioner. The procedures requiring medications and antibiotics need to undergo careful scrutiny to understand its effect, if any, on the newborn’s health. It is best to postpone any less critical treatments and procedures till the time the newborn is being breastfed to avoid any complications on its health.
Teeth formation and weaning
Teeth formation is not a determinant for weaning. It is a decision best left to other’s discretion and the supply. Teething should not be a reason for stopping to nurse and weaning. While solid food is essential for a growing baby after 7months, natural milk is a rich source of anti bodies and immunity builder for the baby and can be continued till 2years.
Dental health and breastfeeding needs to go hand in hand for both the mother and baby’s health and well-being and it must be encouraged. It is very essential that mother’s are made aware of the various benefits dental health has on breastfeeding and vice versa.