Pregnancy brings a multitude of changes to a woman’s body and often the least attention is paid to oral health.  However, research suggests that there is a strong link between complications and compromised oral health during pregnancy.

Due to the body’s altered hormone levels and responses, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to develop gum disease and cavities. However, it is concerning to see that there is increasing evidence that connects pregnancy complications and periodontal disease. It is estimated that 20% of preterm birth cases are triggered by periodontal disease in the mothers.

While a lot of effort is taken to ensure mothers-to-be  maintain good overall health during pregnancy, not much is attention is paid specifically to oral health. This article aims to explain what you need to do to maintain optimum oral health care during pregnancy. Preserving good oral health care during pregnancy involves a bit of effort on the mother’s behalf.

Inform your dentist that you’re pregnant

This will help your dental practitioner understand and assess the changes to your dental health in the context of the overall changes happening in your body. They can also plan when to safely carry out certain dental procedures that may require anaesthetics.

Thanks to the progress in the field of radiography, the risks posed by radiation from dental x-rays are practically insignificant to a foetus. However, your dentist can give you additional protection to limit exposure to the tummy area or even delay the x-ray if it is a non-emergency.

Routine dental treatment can be carried out during pregnancy and it is said that the safest time to complete dental work is during the second trimester. Dr.Sara Stockham at Dental Artistry advises that everyone get a dental examination every six months to catch any gum or teeth related disorders early on.  This is especially important during pregnancy as gum disease or dental caries can impact pregnancy outcomes.

Have a thorough and consistent oral hygiene routine

Due to lifestyle changes, hormonal changes and an altered plaque response during pregnancy, you are more susceptible to developing cavities. The increased risk of developing cavities is concerning as it is possible for cavity-causing bacteria to spread to your baby’s mouth after birth. To avoid this, an updated dental care routine may be required.

Even something as simple as cleaning your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, when done consistently, helps considerably. Regular flossing can also cut down on several pregnancy-related dental problems like plaque build-up. Plaque can result in soreness and pregnancy gingivitis which affects your entire body, not just your oral health. The risk becomes much worse with pregnancy so, any sign of gum or periodontal disease (like bleeding gums) should be addressed right away.  In case you have a high risk pregnancy, your doctor is likely to prescribe a more rigorous dental health care routine.

Besides being horrible to deal with, morning sickness can also affect your teeth. Stomach acid is brought up every time you’re sick and this erodes your tooth enamel. The best thing to do immediately after is to rinse thoroughly with water. Stomach acids soften your teeth so, although it may be tempting, do not brush your teeth immediately after. This will only spread the acid around more. The best thing to do is rinse well and brush your teeth about an hour after.

Keep to a healthy diet

During pregnancy, your body automatically sends nutrition to your baby first and this can often leave the mother with nutritional deficiencies which in turn, affect oral health. So your healthy diet should include enough nutrition to satisfy both your needs.

It’s also advisable to cut down on highly sugary foods and drinks to avoid dental problems. You may also be prescribed multivitamins with folic acid, iron and increased calcium intake as part of your prenatal care. Calcium is important to maintain your own bone mass as well as for the baby. Dairy products are great natural sources of calcium.

While obstetricians and gynaecologists feature prominently as part of your pregnancy team, dental practitioners also have a role to play considering the relationship between periodontal disease and pregnancy outcomes. Most people make the mistake of believing that dental issues only affect the mouth when in fact, they have an impact on the entire body and certainly do on a pregnancy. Get in touch with us at Dental Artistry so we can make sure your oral health is the best it can be through this important time in your life.