When you are pregnant, you are aware of the fact that you have to eat nutritious foods and take folic acid supplements to keep you and your baby healthy. However, many pregnant women forget that it is necessary to protect your gums and teeth from periodontal disease and other diseases during this period. You may be surprised to know but it is true that poor oral health can have an adverse effect not just on your health, but also on the developing baby.
Why is dental care important during pregnancy?
Pregnant women are prone to various dental problems. Morning sickness bothers many women in the first few months of pregnancy. Frequent vomiting due to morning sickness is bad for the teeth as the topmost layer of the enamel gets eroded by stomach acids. As a result, the teeth become sensitive and prone to decay. Then, rising levels of pregnancy hormones make the gum tissues susceptible to bacterial infection. This condition is referred to as ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ and it has some annoying symptoms like bleeding gums, inflammation and tenderness in gums, bad breath, etc. The bacteria that attack the gums may reach the uterus through the bloodstream and cause complications like miscarriage, premature labour or low birth weight of the baby. To prevent all such consequences, proper dental care is a must during pregnancy.
Basic dental care during pregnancy
You do not want a gum infection or toothache during pregnancy because of the discomfort associated with it. So, to prevent such an occurrence, you should remember some points on dental care during pregnancy. They are as follows:
- Maintain a Good Care Regime: Brush your teeth twice a day to clean up plaque build-up and food particles from the teeth. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride content for regular brushing of the teeth. You must brush for two minutes and do not forget to brush the gums as well. This will reduce the chances of gingival problems to a great extent. You must also floss once daily in order to take out the food debris that is stuck in between the teeth that cannot be removed by brushing alone.
- Fight Off the Effects of Morning Sickness: Rinse your mouth with water soon after vomiting but do not brush the teeth immediately as the weak enamel may wear out. Rather, rinsing your mouth with a sodium bicarbonate solution is more beneficial as it will neutralise the effects of acidic components inside the mouth. Some women experience nausea while brushing teeth with regular toothpaste. They should use a bland tasting toothpaste to tackle the problem.
- Look for Signs of Gum Problems: Examine your gums regularly to find out if there is inflammation, tenderness or gum bleeding. These are all indications that the gums are not in a healthy state. In that case, you must talk to your dentist about the treatment options. Some women get painless red lumps called ‘pregnancy tumours‘ in the gums, which are not serious and are non-cancerous. A few rounds of cleaning of the excess plaque build-up during second or early trimester usually reduces such swellings and they disappear completely after delivery.
- Go for a Dental Check-up: Many pregnant women tend to miss appointments with their dentist when they are pregnant. However, it is a wrong practice. Rather, they should visit their dentist and take suitable instructions from them to keep their teeth and gum free from diseases throughout the pregnancy. Moreover, a thorough professional cleaning of the teeth at the early stage of pregnancy reduces the chances of dental problems at a later stage. Continue with the follow-up visits to your dentist as per the schedule.
- Eat Healthy Foods: You must follow a healthy and balanced diet, which consists of plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that supply you with vitamins A, C and D, which are good for oral health. Besides, minerals like calcium are particularly essential for proper development of the unborn baby’s teeth, which usually begins to grow after six weeks of pregnancy. Intake of calcium rich foods like dairy products, cheese, yogurt, etc., will help in developing the teeth and gums in the baby properly.
- Stay Away from Sugary Foods: Many women crave for sweets during pregnancy. If you eat sugary foods, make sure you brush your teeth soon after. However, it is better to avoid such foods as much as possible as it can cause tooth decay and cavities. As a result, you may suffer from toothache. There is nothing more annoying than having a toothache during pregnancy. This is because managing this pain is quite difficult at this point of time as many of the medicines or procedures that are used for the treating toothache are not safe for the baby.
- Stop Smoking: If you are a smoker, then you must quit smoking immediately. There are several hazards of smoking during pregnancy. One of them is that it aggravates the condition of a gum disease.
Dental care will minimise the chances of any major dental problems. However, if you are suffering from toothache or gum pain, then you must visit the dentist as early as possible. Inform them that you are pregnant. Tell them about all the medicines that you are taking. They will first prescribe pain relieving medications that are safe for pregnant mothers. If any dental work is needed, they will try to postpone it till childbirth. If it cannot be delayed, the second trimester is the most suitable period for such treatments.