As much as we care for our overall health we tend not to give much importance to dental hygiene or oral health. During pregnancy oral health is as important as general health. Ever wondered why? Why do we face lots of dental issues during pregnancy? What if it is left untreated, will it affect your baby? To know the answer to all these, read below.
Why do we face dental issues during pregnancy?
There are various reasons behind this:
1. Digestive problems
During pregnancy, there is increased production of acid in your stomach as well as repeated vomiting especially in your first trimester causing erosion of the tooth. Erosion of the tooth if untreated leads to loosening up of the tooth from the gums and further complications.
2. Loss of Calcium
Not only calcium is lost from the bones when you are pregnant, but also from your teeth. This causes brittle teeth, irritated gums, and tooth decay.
You will find yourself indulging and craving sweets more during pregnancy. In your mouth, there are two kinds of bacteria present, one which is beneficial for you and the other kind which is harmful. Now eating too many sweets causes the harmful bacteria in your mouth to produce acids to break down the sugar. These acids damage your enamel, makes you sensitive to hot or cold or even sweets and lead to tooth decay.
A sudden spike in the hormones especially during the second trimester causes swelling of the gums and redness and sometimes even bleeding. If this is not treated it leads to even loss of the tooth. This condition is known as Gingivitis and it affects about 75 percent of pregnant women.
Sounds scary right? But never to worry, these are non-cancerous ones, which usually occur due to poor oral hygiene that leads to excessive plaque forming between your teeth and in severe cases could even bleed.
In what way does it affect your pregnancy?
Dental issues if not addressed during pregnancy leads to ‘‘Periodontal
disease’’ where there are inflamed gums. It starts as soreness in your gums and the
teeth start to loosen up and this even leads to the loss of one or two teeth. Due to
inflammation, there is a risk of developing the following conditions:
- Preeclampsia (Characterized by abnormally high blood pressure)
- Proteinuria (Loss of excess amount of protein from the body via urine)
- High risk for preterm delivery
- Mouth dryness and ulcer
In what way does it affect your baby?
You would have heard the term ‘‘Eating for two’’. Ever heard the term ‘’Brushing for two?’’. Proper oral health is not only required to avoid any effects on the mother but as well as the baby.
No one would ever believe that there is an association between teeth and the uterus. When pregnant women have dental issues, the harmful bacteria become active. These bacteria cause an inflammatory response in the whole body leading to the production of the hormone prostaglandin which is responsible for stimulating labor.
Dental health is hereditary. According to the American Dental Association children are more likely to develop unhealthy gums and teeth and have a higher risk
of losing teeth earlier, if mothers had gum disease during pregnancy. Now how does this happen? Babies in the womb start developing the gums and outer layer of teeth around the 3rd or 4th month of pregnancy. Mothers with periodontal disease have a bacteria called Porphyromonas Gingivalis, commonly known as P.Gingivalis. These bacteria can cross the placenta and make the baby’s teeth as a host and start affecting the process of tooth development.
Mothers who have tooth disease will be deficient of calcium and minerals (Magnesium and Zinc). These are necessary for the proper formation of the teeth of a baby in the womb. The lack of these components causes improper development of teeth.
Simple ways to maintain good oral health during pregnancy
1. Schedule a visit with your dentist whenever necessary. The only difference is to let them know you are pregnant. If any dental procedure is suggested (such as tooth extraction, filling, or cleaning), do cross-check with your gynecologist whether you can undergo it since few dental procedures have to be avoided during pregnancy. Do let your dentist know what medication you are taking. Dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy, it doesn’t affect you or your baby in any way. Follow up with your dentist post-birth.
2. Brush twice a day
3. Avoid sugary snacks, sweets and carbonated drinks
4. Take calcium and mineral-rich foods especially dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt since it strengthens your gums and teeth
5. Use a toothpaste that is meant only for pregnant women
6. Gargle with warm salty water or mouthwash regularly
7. Avoid smoking
In what way is the toothpaste that is only meant for pregnancy different from normal ones?
First thing is that the pregnancy toothpaste is free from artificial flavoring and dyes. They don’t contain substances that trigger or aggravates your morning sickness. They are fluoride free since fluoride in the toothpaste causes birth defects in the babies. It contains lactoferrin, which is an anti-inflammatory agent that defends against various harmful bacteria. It also contains a substance called DPD (Dicalcium phosphate dihydrate) which prevents tooth decay as well as strengthens the enamel. Normal toothpaste contains sulfate (which should be avoided during pregnancy) while toothpaste pertaining to pregnancy doesn’t.
Why is dental care so important?
Dental issues need to be addressed at the earliest since they could complicate your pregnancy as well as become challenging to treat if it has progressed. According to research, 15 percent of women with tooth diseases during pregnancy had preeclampsia while 40 percent had preterm delivery. Statistically these numbers are quite high! We must follow certain steps to avoid adverse outcomes in the future. Remember that these steps are not only essential for your health, it is necessary to protect your baby as well.