Pregnancy is an exciting time. It can be a hormonal time too. Pregnant women tend to become more susceptible to oral infections and are at increased risk of gum disease and permanent tooth damage. Effective care is required not only for the mother but also for a healthy future of the child to be born.
Regular visits to professional dentists are essential for the oral well-being of women planning for pregnancy. Hormone changes, which naturally occur during pregnancy, can adversely affect oral health of pregnant women and influence their overall health. Poor oral health can become a risk to a healthy pregnancy outcome.
I am dr. Ellie Nadian a Brisbane dentist. I believe that regular oral health maintenance can reduce the potentials for deterioration of oral health. Pregnant women should consult with their dentist before or soon after they become pregnant. They should also advise the dental team about their pregnancy and update their medical history records. The aim is to provide an optimal level of oral health before, through out and after pregnancy.
Oral health maintenance is important because changes in the diet, dental hygiene and other complex physiological changes can speed up the deterioration of oral health. Existing oral health issues can worsen because of pregnancy. Tooth decay is common and prevalent in pregnant woman who have no access to dental care. Oral health in an expectant mother has a positive role in preventing early childhood dental caries in their children.
Pre-pregnancy Oral Health Checks
Regular dental check-ups minimise need for emergency dental care. Tell your dentist that you are planning to get pregnant. For more convenience, it is recommended to have your required treatments done prior to getting pregnant.
Dental Treatments During Pregnancy
Required treatments that are non-urgent are often done after your first trimester. Always advise your dentist if you are pregnant. With that information, your dentist takes extra safety precautions to protect the fetus. Consult with your dentist and obstetrician for advice.
Poor Oral health During Pregnancy is not Normal
There are some widely spread myths around the use of oral health care during pregnancy. Oral health issues in pregnant women have been linked to undesired pregnancy outcomes. It can have adverse effect on the health of the mother on one side and is considered a risk factor for low birth weight or premature birth of the fetus on the other side.
Dental Care and Pregnancy Beliefs
According to the woman and dental health survey done by the Australian Dental Association in 2016, more than 25% of Australian woman avoid visiting the dentist during pregnancy thinking it is unsafe. Wrong beliefs to avoid dental care can have negative implications for the health of a women and their babies. It is important to facilitate access of pregnant woman to proper dental care. Many oral health issues are preventable or manageable.
Pregnancy can Affect the Health of the Gum
Studies show that pregnancy does not cause gingivitis, but it can aggravate it. According to Queensland Health, Periodontal disease can become worst during pregnancy. Periodontal disease is an inflammation caused by bacteria. Some women notice the difference in periodontal status before and during pregnancy. They may notice bleeding gums, an increase in bleeding gums or swollen or painful gums. If Periodontal disease is ignored and not managed, it can become destructive.
Risk of Periodontal Disease in Pregnancy
Some studies have linked periodontal disease to preterm birth. Because prematurity is measured by birth weight, both preterm birth and low birth weight have been associated with unmanaged periodontal disease in pregnant woman. The risk is that infants born preterm may face neuro-developmental disabilities.
Gum swelling and bleeding is usually aggravated by poor oral hygiene. Because periodontal disease is a common infection during pregnancy, women would benefit from oral health improvement and dental health maintenance provided by a professional dentist before and during their pregnancy.
What May Prevent Dental Care Attendance
Many health organisations and national guidelines recommend dental care during pregnancy. Dental attendance during pregnancy is essential. Some women give low priority to oral health maintenance. For some others, the perception of having no dental issues, prevents them from regular dental check-ups.
According to studies, there is a direct relationship between need for oral health maintenance and use of dental care services. ADA surveys show that many people are unaware of the increased risk of gum disease and tooth damage because of pregnancy and avoid dentist while pregnant.
Why Women do not Attend Dental Care During Pregnancy?
Pregnant woman may not attend or avoid dental care maintenance. perceived concerns for the safety of the fetal is one of the major barriers to attending dental services among pregnant women. Avoiding may also be due to the following reasons or barriers:
- Dental Anxiety
- Dental Care Beliefs
- Busy Lifestyle (No Time)
- Dental Treatment Finance
- The Perception of Having no Oral Health Issues
Women should be provided sufficient information and access to proper dental care before pregnancy.
Probably misconceptions and perceived risks of dental x-rays, amalgam fillings and local anaesthesia represent some of the most common barriers for requesting dental care services.
- Oral health is an essential component of your overall health. Visit your dentist and advise them about pregnancy before or soon after you become pregnant. Have your oral conditions assessed and maintain a good oral hygiene.
- Visit your dietitian and try to be on a healthy diet before and during pregnancy. It helps with the healthy development of the bones of your baby.
- Maintain oral health with proper flossing and brushing. If tooth brushing triggers nausea, consult with your dentist regarding other alternatives on how to keep teeth clean.
- Do not brush immediately after vomiting. vigorous brushing can scratch your teeth. Wait at least one hour before brushing because acid from your stomach can soften tooth enamel. While teeth are covered with acid, brushing can cause erosion in the enamel and lead to physical damage to the tooth.
- If you are a sufferer of morning sickness, rinse your mouth thoroughly with plain tap water immediately after vomiting to prevent tooth erosion by stomach acid. After rinsing with water, you can use fluoridated mouthwash, or you can smear a dab of fluoridated toothpaste over your teeth using your finger and spit the excess out but try not to rinse. Pay attention to the inner surfaces of the front teeth.
If you are planning for pregnancy, consult with your dentist to find out how you can improve your oral health status. Optimum oral health benefits both you and your child.
Author: Dr Ellie Nadian (Pure Dentistry)