Some women are predisposed to experiencing oral problems during pregnancy, and are more likely to get tooth decay at this period.
Sometimes periodontal disease like chronic infection in the gums may cause premature births. Pregnancy in itself does not harm teeth directly in any way. It is the increased level of hormones during pregnancy that affects the body’s response to plaque and decay.
The expectant mother needs extra calcium for the growing foetus. If the pregnant woman has inadequate calcium intake, her bones will provide calcium for the growing baby needs. The calcium loss will be replenished after the mother stops breastfeeding, but till that time, the extra need of calcium may lead to dental problems in some women.
Dental disease can also affect the developing baby. It is estimated that periodontal disease triggers 18 % of premature births in America. Developing countries may have a higher percentage of premature babies born because of periodontal disease.
The best strategy to prevent periodontal diseases during pregnancy is to follow a good dental hygiene regime pre pregnancy. During the period before you plan your pregnancy, it is a good idea to brush your teeth twice daily. Use good fluoride toothpaste. Floss between your teeth. And keep a routine for dental check-up.
If you are planning to get pregnant, it is a good idea to tell your dentist about it so that he can carry out elective procedures before you conceive. If there is any requirement for dental treatment, non-urgent procedures can be carried out after you deliver the baby.
When you conceive, tell your dentist about it. He may put off taking x-rays as it may harm the developing foetus. If dental x-rays are necessary, or unavoidable, he may take extra precautions to make sure about the baby’s safety. In case your dental situation requires anaesthesia or medications, it is best to talk to your obstetrician before going in for the procedure.
Common causes for dental problems during pregnancy
Vomiting: Vomiting is damaging to the teeth. The pregnancy hormones cause the muscle ring that keeps food in the stomach to soften. When pregnant women experience gastric reflux, in the mornings, called morning sickness, the regurgitated stomach acids coat the teeth. Repeated regurgitations or vomits damage tooth enamel, thereby increasing the risk of decay.
It is advised not to brush your teeth immediately after vomiting as teeth are covered with stomach acids, and brushing may scratch the tooth enamel. Just rinse your teeth with plain water.
Use fluoridated mouthwash. If you do not have fluoridated mouthwash than put a dab of fluoride toothpaste on your finger and smear it on teeth all over. Then rinse with water.Brush your teeth after an hour.
Cravings for starchy and sugary foods
Some women crave sweet foods during pregnancy. Sugar in increased amounts increases the risk of tooth decay. Choose healthy options as a fruit. Brush after eating sugary snacks.
Some women are susceptible to gum problems because of hormones that are secreted because of pregnancy. The response to plaque due to increased hormone level cause gum inflammation more during second semester. Sometimes, there is undiagnosed or untreated gum infection. This gets worse during pregnancy and may lead to tooth loss. It will show up as swollen gums, called epulis. Many a times it is resolved after the birth but sometimes the tooth is lost.
One must start using a softer toothbrush if the gums are inflamed.
Retching while brushing teeth
Some pregnant women find that brushing teeth brings up food. Tooth decay may start if you don’t brush your teeth because of retching. You can use a brush witch has small bristles and small head, like toddler’s brush.
- Slowdown your brushing action.
- Close your eyes while brushing. It may help.
- Listening to music distracts you and may help in brushing.
- Switching to another brand of toothpaste is helpful.
Tips to avoid dental problems during pregnancy
- Increase calcium intake. Include milk, cheese, yogurt, and fortified calcium drinks.
- Increase vitamin D during pregnancy. Cheese, fish and eggs will help increase your vitamin D in diet.
Remember that all pregnant women do not necessarily get dental problems but it is worth the while to take precautions. A regular visit to your dentist is a must.