Good oral health is an important part of good overall health, which is especially important during pregnancy. By paying attention to your oral hygiene and eating habits, you can go a long way toward keeping your mouth healthy. Your dentist also can help you take care of your teeth and gums during this special time.
Daily care of your teeth and mouth is the foundation of oral health. Here are some tips for you including advice from the from The American Dental Association for developing a good oral hygiene routine:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with an electric toothbrush or a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste containing fluoride. Make sure that the brush fits your mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily.
- Replace your toothbrush or the head of your brush every three or four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush does not clean well and can even irritate your gums.
- Clean between your teeth preferably with floss or at least another interdental cleaner after meals. This helps remove the thin layer of bacteria (plaque) that forms on your teeth and food particles from between your teeth and under the gumline.
- The ADA Seal of Acceptance shows that some research has been done on the effectiveness and safety of the oral health products that you buy when used as directed.
Of course, a healthy diet made up of various foods from the following groups: grains is beneficial. These include vegetables, fruits, dairy products, protein, and fats or oils. Limit between meals snacking, and rinse with water if you snack. Sugary foods and drinks allow the bacteria in your mouth to release acids that attack your teeth, increasing your risk of developing tooth decay (cavities).
If your last dental visit took place more than six months ago, or if you are experiencing any oral health problems, schedule an appointment as soon as you can to see your dentist.
Your dentist may check the oral cavity for problems such as tooth decay, swollen or bleeding gums and sores elsewhere in the mouth, as well as for signs of infection or trauma. As part of a full examination, your dentist may need to take radiographs (x-rays).
During pregnancy, women may be at increased risk for oral conditions such as gingivitis and dental caries, your obstetrician and dentist should provide advice on the importance of good oral hygiene throughout the pregnancy. Regular and emergency dental care, including the use of local anesthetics, pain medication and radiographs, are safe at any stage during pregnancy.
During Pregnancy Several Oral Health Conditions Are More Common
Gingivitis may result from hormonal changes that exaggerate the response to bacteria in the gum tissue.
Cavities may occur due to increased snacking due to cravings, increased acidity in the mouth due to vomiting, dry mouth or poor oral hygiene stemming from nausea and vomiting.
Vomiting because of morning sickness can cause erosion of the enamel. It is best to rinse with a dilute solution of 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to neutralize the acid and then brush since the acid from vomiting will soften enamel, and the baking soda will neutralize the acid make your mouth feel fresher.
Some special oral health problems may arise during pregnancy that may require professional treatment. These include hormonal changes which affect your gums, causing swelling or tenderness. Your gums also may bleed when you brush or floss. Since bleeding is a sign of infection, this condition is called gingivitis should be treated. The gum tissue can develop one or more red, raw-looking lumps (pyogenic granuloma) that usually have a bumpy texture. These are called “pregnancy tumors” but are not related to cancer but are cause by increased amounts of pregnancy hormones.
These conditions are preventable with good oral hygiene and professional cleanings, and generally go away after the baby is born. If they are large enough to interfere with eating and thorough brushing and flossing, your dentist may suggest removing them.
To provide the best care, your dentist will need some information about your overall health and your pregnancy. He or she may ask these questions:
- How many weeks pregnant are you? When is your due date?
- What, if any, over-the-counter or prescription medications are you taking?
- Do you have swollen or bleeding gums, a toothache (pain), problems eating or chewing food, or other problems in your mouth?
When gingivitis is not controlled and inflammation causes gum irritation and infection to progress, increased immune responses can cause more severe oral problems like periodontal disease to begin. This is a progressive loss of gum and bone that eventually if untreated can lead to tooth loss and is present in 40% of pregnant mothers.
Unfortunately, the increased immune responses that periodontal disease can cause in your body can also cause seven times the risk of preterm birth, low birth weight or pre-eclampsia.
This is because the bacterial that migration from gum tissues into blood circulation will target the fetus and can stimulate the production of “inflammatory mediators” responsible for the onset of delivery.
Safe and effective treatments like scaling and root planing to treat periodontal infections can be performed during pregnancy and are extremely helpful.
Make a commitment to good oral health during your pregnancy: practice good daily oral hygiene, adopt healthy eating habits and make regular visits to your dentist to ensure your health and the health of your baby.