Pregnancy is a time when your teeth and gums require special care and attention. Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy put women at risk of developing oral health problems including gum disease. Plaque build-up can lead to tooth decay as well. This condition known as pregnancy gingivitis is characterized by inflamed, bleeding gums. It might appear during the second month of pregnancy and become worse by the eighth month.
Other Dental Conditions that Can Develop During Pregnancy
Tooth Decay: this condition is caused by increased acidity in the mouth during pregnancy. Some women have severe morning sickness and frequent bouts of vomiting; in their case the teeth are exposed to more gastric acid that can damage the tooth enamel.
Loose Teeth: the bones and ligaments that provide support to the teeth are often affected by increased levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy, leading to the teeth becoming loose.
Ways of Combating Dental Problems
Poor oral hygiene can lead to complications of the pregnancy and childbirth, according to studies conducted on this topic. Even still birth and premature labor have been linked to the poor oral health of the mother. The bacteria that cause gum disease may contribute towards increased levels of some biological fluids that are capable of inducing labor.
Take the Advice of Your Dentist: Women planning a family should schedule a dental appointment before becoming pregnant. This is the ideal procedure because the dentist can examine the gum tissue, provide professional cleaning and treat any dental problems at an early stage itself. However, if you discover you are pregnant, pay a visit to your dentist as soon as you can. After a preliminary check-up it is most likely that your dentist would suggest a second check-up after six months. If you notice any symptoms such as bleeding gums, soreness and redness make sure that you schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible, even before the actual check-up date. Dental treatment on the NHS is provided free for pregnant women in the UK. The treatment and care provided will be free of charge until the child is 12 months old; you will have to get a certificate of exemption for this.
Follow a Good Oral Hygiene Routine: Good oral hygiene can help prevent the worsening of pregnancy gingivitis. You can make it a habit to brush twice daily at least for 3 to 4 minutes. Flossing should be compulsorily done, and an antimicrobial mouth rinse can be used to minimize gum infection. Paying periodic visits to your dentist is a good option since he/she can check the health of your gums. A professional cleaning treatment can effectively treat pregnancy gingivitis but it should be ideally done during the second trimester. Periodontal surgery and other more invasive treatments, such as dental implants, are best done after delivery.
Changing your toothbrush regularly is a practical measure to take and most dentists would advise you to change the toothbrush every ten to twelve weeks. An electric toothbrush is ideal to remove plaque more effectively.
If you have morning sickness, it would be best to rinse your mouth after a bout of vomiting with plain water to prevent the acid damaging your teeth. Avoid acidic and sugary foods and drinks in between meals to keep tooth decay at bay.
It is important for mothers-to-be to pay special attention to their oral health during pregnancy to avoid complications and ensure a smooth pregnancy and delivery. Your dentist is your ideal friend and guide as regards maintaining excellent oral hygiene during this very important phase of your life.
Post by Mark, a dental health writer for http://www.dentalcareplus.org.uk – specialists in dental implants & cosmetic dentistry