Pregnancy can change a women’s daily habits, and when it comes to health, they have a bigger responsibility that they’re taking extra precautions for almost everything they do. They don’t just have themselves to care for, but they also need to consider the health of their developing baby.
Pregnant women also have a lot of dental concerns caused by hormonal changes in their bodies and how the immune system functions differently during pregnancy. Dental care isn’t high in their list of priorities, but there are pieces of evidence that poor oral health can affect the baby, with 18 out of 100 premature births are triggered by periodontal disease.
Common Dental Problems During Pregnancy
Gum diseases such as gingivitis are one of the most common dental problems women face during pregnancy. There’s an estimated 70% of pregnant women affected by gum disease.
- Gingivitis – Characterized by the formation of plaque on the teeth and just below the gum line, gingivitis occurs around the second month until the eight months of pregnancy. The increased level of hormones, estrogen, and progesterone, causes the gum’s aggravated reaction to the irritant in plaque, which can result in the bleeding and swelling of the gums. Some studies show that gingivitis during pregnancy causes a higher risk for the baby to be born premature and to have low birth weight. The gum disease can also lead to induced labor triggered by increased levels of biological fluids.
- Tooth decay – This is another common pregnancy problem. Expecting mothers have a different response to plaque that causes tooth decay. A lot of pregnant women also experience morning sickness, and the stomach acid caused by vomiting, if not taken care of, heightens the risk of tooth decay and dental erosion.
- Tooth Loss – There are also cases wherein expecting mothers can have loose and sensitive teeth, leading to tooth loss. This is possible even in the absence of gum disease because of the increased level of progesterone and estrogen, affecting the muscles and bones that keep the teeth in place.
Tips for Expecting Moms
While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent oral health problems to arise during pregnancy, there are necessary measures to avoid serious cases of dental issues. Below are dental care activities pregnant women must do:
- Regularly consult a dentist. As soon as they learn about the pregnancy, schedule a visit with a dentist. Dentists treat their pregnant patients differently, in a way that some treatments and examinations are not allowed for pregnant women and there’s also special care necessary for the expecting mothers.
- Brush regularly but avoid brushing right after vomiting or retching. While it’s necessary to brush your teeth at least twice a day, avoid brushing for at least an hour after vomiting. Give the tooth enamel time to recover from the stomach acids. Brushing right after gastric reflux can cause damage to the tooth enamel. Using a fluoride toothpaste and a brush with a smaller head, and brushing using slow actions are also recommended.
- Include mouthwash in your oral care routine. Due to bouts of vomiting, it’s critical for pregnant women to include an antibacterial mouthwash in their regime.
- Increase the intake of calcium and vitamin. Diet during pregnancy also needs planning and attention. This is necessary to protect bone mass and support the growth and nutritional demands of the developing baby. Good sources for food and drinks rich in calcium, such as milk, cheese, and unsweetened yogurt. As for vitamin D, eat more eggs, fatty fish, cheese, and fortified margarine.
- Avoid starchy and sweet foods. It’s difficult for pregnant women to control their cravings, especially for sweet stuff. But avoiding sweets is necessary not just for the baby’s health but also for the expecting mom’s teeth. Opt for low-sugar food and go for healthier options, and make sure to rinse your mouth right after consuming sweets.
- Floss regularly. To prevent plaque and tooth decay, make sure that the areas that can’t be reached just by brushing alone can still be addressed through flossing regularly.
Going for a healthy lifestyle is more critical for pregnant women than for the common folks. But with two lives at stake, it’s just wise to take these extra steps.
About the Author:-
Jane is a blogger and health advocate. She focuses on promoting healthy habits, and her areas of specialization include dental health, obstructive sleep apnoea, and fitness.