Even though expectant mothers have so many new things to think about, it is very important that they don’t forget to look after their dental health. Dental care is especially important during pregnancy due to the impact of hormonal changes.
Pregnancy and Gingivitis
Hormonal changes can not only make some pre-existing dental conditions worse, but can also increase the likelihood of the development of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and, if left untreated, periodontitis (gum disease). It is estimated that as many as 40 % of women will develop gingivitis during their pregnancy.
The reason that gingivitis is so common in pregnant women is because of the rise in progesterone levels, which makes gum tissue more sensitive as well as the mouth becoming a favourable environment for the growth of bacteria that cause gingivitis. Pregnant women will most commonly see a change in their gum health between the second and eighth week of pregnancy. To assist in the prevention of gingivitis, it is important that pregnant women practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily as well as using an antimicrobial mouthwash. It is also important that expectant mothers inform their dentist so that he/she can look for the first signs of gum disease.
Morning Sickness and Oral Hygiene
Morning sickness is a common and unpleasant aspect of pregnancy that can have an impact upon oral health. Due to the increased acid in the mouth due to vomiting, dental erosion can occur. Rinsing with mouthwash is recommended immediately after vomiting and teeth should only be brushed once this has occurred to prevent further enamel damage. Changing to a bland-tasting toothpaste during pregnancy can be helpful if morning sickness is problematic. Dentists and dental hygienists can give recommendations.
Dental Treatment to Avoid During Pregnancy
As a precautionary measure, dental treatments during the first trimester and second half of the last trimester should be avoided as much as possible as these are crucial times in the baby’s development. It is recommended that dental x-rays are avoided during the entire pregnancy. If x-rays are a necessity because of a dental emergency, dentists will exercise extreme caution when performing them, as the radiation from x-rays can be harmful to the unborn baby. Fortunately, advances in medical technology mean that x-rays are much safer now than in the past.
Safe Dental Treatment During Pregnancy
Preventative dental examinations and cleans are not only safe during pregnancy but are recommended. These consultations are an important measure in the prevention of oral health issues that can develop during pregnancy.