Dental care is an important part of any pregnancy, which is why it is important to take good care of your teeth and gums when expectant. One of the main reasons why this is key is because pregnancy is characterized by hormonal changes that predispose the gums to disease.
In addition to this, the hormonal changes make the gums easily irritated. Left unchecked, this can have a severe effect on the woman’s health, which in turn affects the healthy development of the baby. Research shows that there is a subtle connection between gum disease in a pregnant woman and children with low birth weight. In many cases, premature births have been shown to be triggered by the onset of diseases affecting the teeth and the gums.
For the most part, expectant women get routine dental check-up as part of the clinical package. For those with a high-risk pregnancy however, treatment of various dental health conditions may be postponed to sustain the pregnancy. The benefits of dental care during pregnancy counter the potential risks of the same. Professional dental services are essential for healthy teeth and gums. Below are some of the simple ways in which you can care for your teeth when pregnant.
1. Regular Oral Health Care Routine:
During pregnancy, most women will experience a noticeable difference in the state of the gums and the teeth. This is attributed to an upsurge in the level of hormones in the body. Progesterone and oestrogen are two of the hormones found in high concentrations in a pregnant woman.
The increased levels of these hormones encourage greater circulation which sometimes leads to reddened gums, and in some cases, bleeding and swelling. This not only creates discomfort, it also predisposes the woman to plaque build-up. If this is left unchecked, it could easily lead to gingivitis or periodontitis. The latter is a severe form of gum disease which requires immediate dental attention.
For this reason, it is important for pregnant women to keep up with the regular dental care routine. This can be achieved through the following means:
– Brush twice daily, for at least two minutes in order to get rid of plaque. Doing this prevents plaque from accumulating, which in turn protects the gum and teeth. In addition to this, flossing should also be done regularly to eliminate those difficult food remnants stuck between the teeth.
– Use a toothbrush with soft bristles in order to prevent abrasion on the gums. Remember, gums tend to be more swollen during pregnancy so hard bristles are likely to cause damage to the teeth while increasing the chances of bleeding.
– Another side effect of pregnancy is the drying out of the mouth due to the hormonal changes. To counter this, consider using mouth rinse regularly in order to both freshen up the mouth and get rid of bacteria.
2. Dealing with Morning Sickness:
Morning sickness is a common symptom during pregnancy and particularly in the first trimester. Needless to say, some pregnant women experience morning sickness all through the three trimesters and this makes it very important to address dental health care. If you experience morning sickness, make sure you rinse your mouth as soon as possible.
This is done in order to get rid of the acidic contents left in the mouth. Contrary to popular belief, you ought not to brush immediately after a bout of morning sickness. It is recommended that you wait at least 20 minutes. The 20-minute break allows for the saliva to act on the acidic content.
On the contrary, brushing immediately increases the abrasive power of the acids, thus wearing the structure of the tooth down. To counter the nauseous feeling during the 20-minute break, rinse the mouth using plain warm water after which you can brush your teeth as normal.
Another home remedy that you can incorporate into your oral health care routine is the use of baking soda mixed with water. Baking soda is alkaline in nature and this comes in handy for the neutralization of the acidic content associated with morning sickness. Take care however, because overusing the baking soda can easily weaken the tooth enamel.
NOTE: If you tend to experience nausea with a particular brand of toothpaste, simply switch up flavors or opt for a product that does not have an intense flavour to see whether it makes you feel better. The most important thing is to ensure that the bland toothpaste of your choice is effective in cleaning. You may ask your dentist for recommendations depending on the stage of pregnancy you are in.
3. Manage Your Cravings:
Hormonal changes during pregnancy often cause food cravings and aversions that can have a profound effect on dental health. This is marked by the intense craving for sugary and acidic snacks such as chocolate, pastries among other decadent treats.
Ideally, proper health care means that you lower your intake of these sugary treats. While at it, ensure that you brush your teeth half an hour after indulgence to reduce the chances of tooth decay. In addition, make an effort to snack on foods which are low in salt, fat and sugar and instead rich in fiber.
4. Increase Your Calcium Intake:
Calcium is required for the growth and proper development of baby’s teeth and bones after birth. What many do not realize is that the calcium is not derived from the teeth. During pregnancy, the woman supplies the growing fetus with calcium and phosphorous obtained from diet.
This is important to replenish reserves within the body in order to ensure that the mother-to-be’s body is not stripped of calcium. This way, a pregnant woman can maintain healthy teeth while still ensuring the baby develops normally.
Some excellent sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, soy milk and salmon. In some cases, calcium supplements may be recommended alongside prenatal vitamins, but make sure to check with your doctor before doing so.
5. Handling Dental X-Rays if Required:
Depending on the dental procedure to be carried out, sometimes dental X-rays may be required. Granted, the benefits of such a procedure would have to outweigh the potential risks of the same, but this will be guided by your dentist.
The good news is that advancements in technology have allowed the use of X-ray procedures that are safe. Extreme caution should be exercised however, to ensure your health and that of your baby.
In addition to the simple ways to take care of your teeth when pregnant, one golden rule is to make sure that you do not skip any dental check-up appointments just because you are expecting. If anything, this is a most crucial time owing to the hormonal changes. Raise any concerns you may have with your dentist, and pay attention to any noticeable changes in your oral health.