Cosmetic Dental and Implant Centre- Malvern Vic
Dr Maria Araque
There is a lot to think about during pregnancy and it may be easy to overlook your oral health, but pregnancy can actually exacerbate dental problems and dental problems conversely can affect the health of your baby (fetus).
At CDIC (Cosmetic Dental & Implant Centre), we care for the entire family and that is why I thought of sharing some important information before I take maternity leave for a few months. This information is crucial for expecting mums.
Based on my personal experience over the past few months and speaking with other mothers to be, I found that a large proportion of pregnant women avoid going to the dentist because they are worried their baby may be harmed. This is a misconception that need to be corrected. Most dental treatments are safe during pregnancy and as long and the dentist is aware of the pregnancy, the risk is negligible.
In fact, there are numerous studies showing that pregnant women are more prone to dental problems and these problems can affect the health of your baby.
How does pregnancy affect an expectant mother’s oral health and how does dental health affects a developing baby?
Even though it is an old wives tale that teeth become weaker as calcium is sucked out from a mother’s teeth by the baby, it is true that pregnancy may cause some changes in oral health.
The main changes that occur are due to an increase in oestrogen and progesterone hormones that influence gum health and conditions known as gingivitis (swollen and bleeding gums). If gingivitis is not treated, it will progress to periodontitis. ‘Pregnancy’ gingivitis can be more aggressive and advance faster and a pre-existing gingivitis will tend to progress more rapidly during pregnancy. At CDIC, we recommend regular appointments for scaling and cleaning during pregnancy and for the entire family to avoid these gum related problems.
During pregnancy there is a tendency to developing benign soft tissue tumor type swellings on gums known as “pregnancy epulides”. They tend to disappear after the birth of the baby, but in some cases, they need to be surgically removed if they interfere with hygiene, chewing, become painful or uncomfortable.
Other dental issues that arise during pregnancy are related to the increase in acid levels in the oral cavity as a result of vomiting (morning sickness), sugary food cravings, etc. High acid levels cause tooth erosion and decalcify teeth making them more prone to decay and other problems.
Recent research has also found a close relationship between bacteria coming from the oral cavity, the body’s response to this and low – birthweight and preterm babies. Bacteria from gum disease, decay, tooth infection, etc. can enters the bloodstream resulting in chemical inflammatory mediators being release into the body. These chemical mediators and bacteria travel to other areas within the body including the uterus activating the production of chemicals that can induce labour.
How can you improve your dental health and minimize the risks to your baby?
At CDIC, we believe preventing oral disease is better for you and your family. That is why we highly recommend periodic visits for the entire family to maintain oral health and prevent dental problems.
Tips for Pregnant Patients:
- Good oral hygiene habits – brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and floss at least once a day
- Drinking plenty of fluoridated water
- Maintaining a healthy diet and choosing low sugar options to satisfy cravings, such as fruits and nuts and rinsing with water between meals and snacks
- Saliva neutralizes acid – chewing sugar-free chewing gum will increase saliva flow
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after being ‘sick’ from morning sickness and wait at least 30min before brushing your teeth. Brushing your teeth too soon can cause tooth substance abrasion
- At CDIC we encourage pregnant women as well as their families to have regular visits to the dentist. Remember to let the clinician know if you are pregnant.
Dr Maria Araque
Cosmetic Dental & Implant Centre – Malvern