All About Pregnancy and Teeth
The center of attention for all the moms-to-be is precisely making things flawless for the newborn, and in doing so, she neglects her own health – especially her oral health.
Hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy are unique to every woman.
From swollen feet to abrupt mood swings, extreme anxiety, excitement, and anger – these emotions can be easily explained because ‘you are pregnant’ and for many women, pregnancy is kind of a tempestuous journey.
Oral health and Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time when a lady encounters a spurt of hormonal changes. These changes affect her oral health up to the extent that she becomes more susceptible to many oral health problems, including periodontal diseases and pregnancy tumors (rare, but an overgrowth affecting the gums of a pregnant mom).
These pregnancy tumors are because of hormonal changes, and they usually emerge during the second trimester of pregnancy. These tumors disappear on their own after the delivery. However, if not, and if it causes you discomfort while eating, consult your dentist to remove them surgically.
Studies have shown that periodontal disease is related to premature birth and lower birth weight of the baby. This can put your baby at risk of many other health problems.
Causes of poor dental health before/during pregnancy
- Increased levels of progesterone
Most noticeable after the second month of pregnancy. Pregnancy gingivitis makes the irritated gums more swollen and bleeds easily because of inflammation. Your dentist might recommend regular and frequent cleaning of teeth to prevent further inflammation.
- Loose teeth
Nearly 50% of pregnant women experience some loose teeth, even without gum disease. This is because of an increased level of progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy. This primarily affects the periodontium– the bone that binds and supports the teeth. The process is short- term and temporary and fades after the delivery.
- Morning/Evening sickness and gastric reflux (heartburn)
Morning/Evening sickness or gastric reflux (heartburn) both cause acidic content (Hydrochloric acid) of the stomach to come in contact with the teeth enamel when you vomit. This acid weakens and erodes the tooth enamel making pregnant women at a higher risk of developing cavities.
Many of the pregnant women get tempted to brush their teeth immediately after the sickness. But the best way to keep your teeth enamel from damaging is to rinse your mouth with water mixed with one teaspoon of baking soda in it. Since baking soda is a base, it will help to neutralize the acidity of the acidic content you spurt out during vomiting.
Alternatively, use a fluoride-containing mouthwash and rinse your mouth.
4. Folic acid
Folic acid (vitamin B9) makes healthy red blood cells and also develops the unborn’s brain, spinal cord, and skull. These sugary and chewable tablets can stick to your teeth and can cause damage to your teeth.
- Unusual food cravings
Many women feel unusual food cravings during pregnancy. Avoid taking sugary snacks as it may add to the danger of tooth decay. Choose a healthier option, like fresh fruits. Rinse your mouth with fluoride-containing mouthwash as its ingredient.
If you have fillings or crowns, it suggests that you already had cavities. Untreated cavities can lead to the demineralization of the tooth enamel. Consult your dentist for cavities and associated problems with them.
One is quite familiar that the overall health declines during pregnancy. Before pregnancy, visit your dentist to see if your teeth need any dental treatments. Gum issues or teeth cleaning can be taken care of well before pregnancy.
A thorough dental treatment before pregnancy can also reduce the risk of premature birth. Teeth cleaning, dental X-rays are perfectly safe during pregnancy. However, dental implants and cosmetic treatments should be scheduled after the delivery.
Though X-rays don’t cause any harm to the unborn baby, frequent exposure to the radiation can damage the body’s cells leading to cancer in later stages of life.
It is mandatory and safe to maintain a good and healthy dental routine throughout the pregnancy. Tell your dentist about your pregnancy. Doctors and dentists are very cautious while prescribing medicines to an expecting woman.
- Sedatives like Tetracycline, Triazolam, and benzodiazepine antibiotics should be strictly avoided during pregnancy as it can cause damage to the baby’s developing teeth and bones.
Intake of tetracycline during pregnancy can cause permanent discoloration of the baby’s teeth. On the other hand, a pregnant woman exposed to triazolam sedatives can soar up the risk of congenital disabilities.
- It is safe to take painkillers like paracetamol during pregnancy. Inform your dentist if you’ve already been taking some medications or vitamins prescribed by your gynecologist.
- If morning sickness keeps you down from brushing your teeth, rinse your mouth with a mouthwash or water to put down the foul smell. Ask your dentist to recommend some suggestions.
- Cut down sugar cravings as much as possible. Remember, the more sugary snacks, the more prone to dental decay.
- A Baby’s teeth start to develop in the third month of pregnancy. So eat calcium-rich healthy food. Include yogurt, milk, cheese in your diet for the baby’s teeth and bones.
- Increase the vitamin D intake during pregnancy as it helps absorb calcium from the intestine. Include eggs, fish, margarine, bread, and cereals for vitamin D. Sunlight is also an excellent Vitamin D source.
Visit your dentist post-delivery if you have encountered any of the dental issues during pregnancy.
When you are brushing for two, the bottom line is that you have to eat the healthy and the right food. Moms should keep their oral health at the top of the priority list. Eating the wrong food can make you pass the bad and damaging bacteria to your unborn baby. Switch to fresh vegetables and fruits to look after your mouth’s oral health and for the unborn child.