There’s no greater joy than welcoming a miniature version of you into this world! While the pregnancy news is exhilarating, on the other hand, you must be already coping with physical discomforts like constipation, indigestion, or backache.
Another addition to this list would be dental problems. Oral health problems can lead to premature birth and poor birth weight. One of the gum diseases, gingivitis, affects approximately 60 to 75% of pregnant women.
It is a periodontal disease in which the gums get inflamed, and the condition is often aggravated due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. If not addressed immediately by the best dental hospital, gingivitis could cause infection to the gums, and one could lose the bone that supports the teeth.
Calm down, and don’t worry! We aren’t here to frighten you but rather to enlighten you on maintaining the perfect dental health to avoid complications in pregnancy.
The Connection Between Oral Health and Pregnancy
Pregnant women are prone to a range of oral health problems that could impact the health of both the mother and baby. As a result, dental health is a vital part of your prenatal care in order to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Here are the ways pregnancy is linked to dental problems:
1. Hormonal Changes
During pregnancy, your body experiences a hormone surge, particularly estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal shifts can significantly impact your oral health, including loss of teeth, as the excessive amount of these hormones temporarily loosen the tissues and bones that hold your teeth.
2. Increased Blood Flow
The increased blood flow to your gums due to a spike in estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy may result in a variety of outcomes. One of them being “pregnancy gingivitis.” This can result in swollen, tender gums accompanied by bleeding.
3. Morning Sickness and Tooth Erosion
Many pregnant women experience morning sickness comprising nausea and vomiting, which is again attributed to the increase in estrogen and progesterone levels. When the acid in your vomit reaches your teeth, it can erode enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity and cavities.
Important tip: Do not brush your teeth instantly after vomiting. Since the acid from your vomit will be left behind on your teeth, brushing can erode tooth enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth thoroughly using fluoridated mouthwash. You can brush after an hour.
4. Cravings for Sugary Foods
Pregnancy cravings are common, and they often involve sugary or acidic foods. Indulging in these cravings frequently can increase the risk of tooth decay. Some women also experience cravings for unusual items like chalk or ice. If you’re having such cravings, it may indicate certain mineral deficiencies.
5. Experiencing Pregnancy Epulis
Pregnancy can affect gums in various ways, and ‘pregnancy epulis’ or ‘pregnancy tumors’ is one such instance. These are round-shaped growths or tumors between teeth due to excessive plaque buildup. The tumors are benign and prone to bleeding. These typically resolve after childbirth, and in case they don’t, these can be removed surgically.
What To Do If Dental Problems Occur During Pregnancy?
Since you know now that dental problems during pregnancy are common, it is important that you don’t suffer silently. In case you have tooth pain or caries, the first and foremost step is to visit your dentist. Inform your dentist about your pregnancy stage so they can treat you accordingly.
Generally, the treatment starts with a dental X-ray, which is safe for both mothers and babies. Once the condition is accurately diagnosed, the dentist will come up with a treatment plan. The majority of the dental procedures are done under local anesthesia. It’s absolutely safe to undergo them anytime during pregnancy, as recommended by your dental surgeon.
In the case of caries, there is a high chance that you pass the bacteria to the baby during pregnancy or post-birth. Specialized dentists must treat the cavities using mercury-free fillings. This is because pregnant women treated using mercury fillings have shown a rise in miscarriage and low-birth-weight babies.
What Care Needs To Be Taken In Terms Of Medications And Treatments?
Depending upon your oral concern, the dentist might ask you to wait till your child’s birth, while some procedures can be carried out during pregnancy. Here are some points you should look closely at regarding medications and treatment:
- Dental Cleanings: If you are pregnant, you can schedule appointments like before, as they don’t impact your pregnancy or baby’s health. Because of the risk of gingivitis plaque during pregnancy, dentists generally recommend cleanings every three months.
- Teeth Extraction and Teeth Replacement: If you’re experiencing severe pain and your dental surgeon recommends extraction, it’s absolutely safe to undergo teeth extraction and teeth replacement anytime during pregnancy. An infected tooth is more harmful as it causes severe pain, pus discharge, and swelling.
- Medications: While dentists prescribe safe pain relievers and antibiotics to treat infections during pregnancy, it is crucial to discuss with your gynecologist before taking the medicines to ensure that you have a completely healthy pregnancy.
Are Painkillers Safe During Pregnancy?
While most painkillers may seem harmless, the rules change when you carry a baby. Before popping any painkiller for your dental dilemmas, it is vital to consult both your gynecologist and dentist for a safe pregnancy. Acetaminophen is one of the painkillers that doctors recommend to pregnant women. However, it should be used following the recommended dosage and under the guidance of a doctor.
Mandatory Dental Care For Women Planning IVF
According to a study by NIH, there exists a connection between oral health and the ability to achieve pregnancy both naturally and through IVF. As mentioned earlier, hormonal changes play a significant role during pregnancy and can worsen gum health.
If you plan to conceive through IVF, first visit your dentist, as hormones administered during the treatment can aggravate pre-existing periodontal conditions, resulting in reduced success of IVF.
Dental issues, such as infections or inflammation, can potentially disrupt hormonal balance, which can be particularly significant for individuals undergoing IVF, where hormonal regulation is crucial for the success of the treatment. Here is what you should do for successful treatment:
- Don’t skip your routine dental cleanings, as they catch cavities before they become serious.
- If your dentist finds out about tooth decay, get the treatment started at the earliest.
- If your dentist recommends more frequent cleanings, go ahead with them.
- Schedule your fertility treatment a few weeks after your deep cleaning session, as there can be a temporary increase in immunological activity that affects the success of treatment.
- If you suffer from wisdom teeth pain, it is best to get it removed before beginning the process, as infections can spread into the bloodstream and cause complications.
The Dental Care During Pregnancy
Dental problems in would-be mothers are common, but you can safeguard against them by only following a few precautions. Here are the crucial prevention rules to keep oral health problems at bay and nurture your growing baby.
1. Brushing and Flossing
Maintain a robust oral hygiene routine by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to prevent gum irritation and a fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to brush in all directions to remove and prevent plaque. Flossing also helps prevent plaque accumulation by removing food particles between your teeth.
2. Importance of Dental Checkups
Regular dental checkups are vital during pregnancy to address emerging oral health issues and ensure a healthy pregnancy. You can also opt for routine teeth cleanings that are safe throughout pregnancy and aid in improving your teeth and gum health.
3. Follow a Healthy Diet
You must have been advised to consume more fresh fruits and vegetables, and the importance can never be overstated. They provide all the essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, D, calcium, protein, and more. It is important to increase your calcium intake, especially in the prenatal period. Calcium strengthens your bones and teeth and meets the growing baby’s nutritional requirements. Cheese, milk, yogurt, and almonds are rich sources of calcium.
4. Do Not Smoke or Drink Alcohol
Dentists advise to avoid alcohol and tobacco products as they increase the risk of developing periodontal disease. Besides, drinking alcohol in excessive amounts can result in miscarriage. Likewise, smoking, too, has similar consequences on the baby. It can lead to tissue damage in the brain, lungs, or other body parts. Smoking in your pregnancy can also cause musculoskeletal and cardiovascular defects in the unborn baby.
5. Stay Away from Carbonated Drinks
Are you craving soda or cold drinks too frequently? Try drinking water or low-fat milk. These have very little or no sugar at all and don’t affect your dental health in any way. Plus, they’re more nutritious alternatives.
Maintaining optimal dental health in the course of pregnancy is not just about having a beautiful smile but also ensuring the well-being of both the mother and the baby. The hormonal changes, morning sickness, and cravings can pose challenges, but with regular dental checkups, proper oral care, and mindful dietary choices, these challenges are easier to overcome.
Dental health is a crucial aspect of pregnancy. It’s essential to stay informed, proactive, and in touch with your dentist to navigate it successfully. If you encounter any oral health issues, book your appointment at Gnathos Dental, a top dental hospital in Hyderabad. From routine dental care to root canals and dental implants, we are here to address your oral health issues with utmost compassion and advanced solutions.