Pregnancy is the most precious yet most vulnerable time in a woman’s life. It is precious for both mother and the baby. But what happens is that the mother is involved in taking care of the baby which is growing from a pea size to the size of a watermelon, and she forgets that there are a few other things that she needs to take care of. One such thing is her oral health.
Did you know, gingival diseases or gum diseases are one of the causes of low birth weight in babies?
Did you know you can get dental treatment done during pregnancy?
Did you know dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy as they have very minimal radiation exposure and your dentist will cover you with a lead apron before taking the x-ray?
Why does pregnancy have effects on dental health?
There are a lot of things going on in your body when you are pregnant and these can adversely affect your oral and dental health including your teeth and gums.
- Progesterone and estrogen are at their peak during pregnancy and can cause problems with your oral health if not taken care of. Progesterone enhances the production of prostaglandins. These prostaglandins cause inflammation of the blood vessels in the gums, and thus gingivitis.
- Poor oral hygiene is common during pregnancy as a pregnant woman is more focused on the other health issues that the oral health is compromised.
- Morning sickness is another cause of dental problems during pregnancy. Vomiting associated with pregnancy usually contains acids from the stomach which can affect the teeth. It can erode the enamel of the tooth and cause sensitivity.
- Changes in eating habits during pregnancy especially if you are more fond of sticky food or sweet food, can cause cavities in your teeth.
How does pregnancy affect dental health?
Gum Disease or Gingivitis
Inflammation of the gums is known as gingivitis or gum disease. It is common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and sometimes due to poor oral hygiene.
If proper care is not taken it can further increase and slowly cause severe inflammation of the gums, periodontal disease, and loose teeth. So, a dental visit is a must during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Gingivitis can be:
- Bleeding gums
- Reddish Gums
- Pain and tenderness in the gums
- Itchy feeling in the gums
Pregnant females who have severe gum disease are at a higher chance of delivering prematurely and the baby in these cases is underweight.
Cavities are the pits and holes you can see in your teeth. Your tooth might be discolored from the area of the cavity. It is not necessary that you might have pain in that tooth. There just might be sensitivity to hot or cold. If the tooth is sensitive to hot chances are that your tooth might go for a more invasive procedure like a root canal treatment.
There is nothing to worry and you can get it done even during pregnancy. Just remember to inform your dentist about your pregnancy so that he or she can take all the required precautions.
A pregnancy tumor is not a tumor. It is a swelling present on the gingiva which is nodular and looks like a small mass of tissue. It usually is seen at the end of the first trimester and most of the time regresses on its own after delivery.
In some cases when it comes in occlusion and makes it difficult to eat anything it needs to be surgically removed.
Sometimes due to morning sickness when the vomiting is acidic in nature there is an erosion of the surface of the teeth, i.e., the enamel, which might cause sensitivity.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of dental problems during pregnancy?
You can look for the following signs and symptoms of dental problems during pregnancy:
- Pain, pain in any tooth or gums surrounding the teeth is a sign that you have a dental problem and you need to visit a dentist.
- Bad breath, is another sign of a dental problem. There can be several reasons for bad breath like a cavity, gum disease, poor oral hygiene, etc.
- Lumps or swelling on the gums
- Receded gums
- Loose teeth
- Bleeding gums
How can you prevent dental problems during pregnancy?
Dental and oral health is as important as overall health during pregnancy and also when you are not pregnant.
There are several ways you can prevent dental problems during pregnancy:
- Brush twice a day using a pea size of fluoridated toothpaste.
- If brushing your teeth early in the morning gives you a sensation of puking, then you can either brush at a different more comfortable time of the day or try changing your toothpaste to a little blander toothpaste.
- Floss at least once every day.
- Make sure to visit your dentist at least once in 6 months even during your pregnancy.
- Pre-pregnancy dental checkups are also very important.
- Even when you binge eat or snack on sweet and sticky food, do not forget to rinse later or drink a glass of water.
Are dental X-rays (IOPA) safe during pregnancy?
Yes! Dental X-rays have very low resolution and are safe. They do not harm the fetus. Your dentist will cover you with a lead apron first and then take the X-ray. Make sure to inform your dentist about your pregnancy even if it is the first trimester.
When is the safest time to get any treatment done during pregnancy?
The 2nd trimester is the safest time to get any kind of dental treatment during pregnancy.
The 1st trimester is the most vulnerable time as it is the time of organogenesis. According to American Pregnancy Association, no reports are stating that there is any harm caused during the dental treatment done in the first trimester, but most women avoid dental treatment during the first trimester.
The 3rd trimester (especially the late 3rd trimester) is also avoided as it sometimes is difficult to lie down on your back for a long period during the 3rd trimester.
In case of any emergency, any dental treatment can be done at any time of the pregnancy, taking into count the would-be mother’s comfort.
What are the effects of poor oral health of the mother on the growing fetus?
The bacteria from the oral cavity can be transmitted to the baby. And most of the mothers who have gingivitis have a higher risk of having early deliveries and therefore premature babies according to studies. Premature babies have more health problems than full-term babies.
So, oral and dental health is very important during pregnancy. Maintaining good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly is a must.
Dr. Garima Verma
MDS (Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon)
Operator and Owner @ 32 Sparklets, Mohali
Founder and Writer @ https://dentistmaa.com/