Having a baby bump is a major chapter in a woman’s life. It influences physical and mental health and brings a lot of emotions, including love, excitement, stress, anxiety, fun and sometimes, depression. Then there come the hormonal changes, which have varied effects too. And so, focusing on holistic care of the mother, baby in the womb, and post-delivery care together can make this event safe, memorable, and joyful.
In addition, predicting the risks, complications, and related adverse health outcomes should be on priority. Making necessary changes & prevent them from occurring is a must-do-job.
Among all the changes in a pregnant lady, studies have found that an expecting mother may face tooth decay and gingival problems that may need a visit to a periodontist. If you are pregnant, it’s rewarding to learn the effects of pregnancy on your oral health.
Effects of pregnancy on oral health
You become more susceptible to a range of oral health conditions during pregnancy. They may be harmful to you and the health of your baby.
The rise in pregnancy hormones (estrogen, progesterone) increases the risk of inflammation in the gums (gingivitis).
These hormones may cause bacterial growth. It may lead to an altered bacterial environment in the oral cavity.
Now, changes in the production and degradation of fibers (collagen) of gums and a suboptimal immune response collectively reduce the body’s ability to repair and maintain the gum tissue.
Moreover, a change in hormones indirectly affects tooth decay. The explanation is that 70% of pregnancies show nausea and vomiting. Frequent vomiting can negatively impact oral hygiene. Also, the acid erodes the enamel, making the teeth more sensitive to tooth decay.
Role of oral health in pregnancy
The frequency of Gingivitis reduces from 3 out of 5 individuals to a meager 3 out of 100 when the pregnant women are plaque-free at the beginning of pregnancy and follow good oral hygiene practices throughout pregnancy.
Commonly seen dental problems in pregnancy
With poor oral hygiene maintenance, pregnant women can experience a rise in blood pressure (pre-eclampsia), gum sores, pregnancy tumors, loose teeth, dry mouth, dental erosions, tooth decay and preterm labor, giving birth to underweight babies.
The main factors that deteriorate oral health are:
- Diet. In early pregnancy, some mothers may experience an extreme interest in eating some foods, especially carbohydrates. Many experience a sweet tooth, and they may neglect to brush their teeth after eating.
- Brushing. You may refrain from brushing and may be fearful following instances of bleeding gums that occur frequently. That causes increased plaque accumulation.
- Vomiting. Increased vomiting makes the mouth more acidic, especially in the first few months. Also, the mouth becomes drier and suitable for a rise in tooth decay.
Some women are so focused and preoccupied with the baby that they neglect their oral health.
Dental procedures that are safe during pregnancy
There are myths about the safety of getting dental procedures during pregnancy. Even if you are pregnant and have dental problems, you can always book an appointment with an emergency dentist.
The emergency dentist may evaluate the oral health and suggest the appropriate dental treatments, possibly in the respective trimesters.
Pregnancy is not a diseased state. Instead, it signifies health. Also, there is no way you lose any teeth in health.
In the first trimester, treatments are usually limited to oral prophylaxis and dental emergencies only. Dentists may avoid radiographs unless it’s a must.
Dentists may perform elective dental treatments in the second trimester, including surgeries. It’s considered the safest trimester, whereas dentists avoid treatments in the third trimester. More so, they would be averse to doing any dental treatment in the second half of this last trimester.4
Beneficial nutritional supplements
An adequate nutrition and energy supply is the key to undesired incidents during pregnancy. Positive energy affects the mother and the baby alike, and any inadequacies can cause unwanted effects.
There is a daily requirement of 1200–1500mg of calcium for the expectant mother and the baby to have healthy bones. They can meet this requirement by taking calcium-rich food such as milk, dairy products and green leafy vegetables.
Apart from the mentioned food, one can eat fruits, cereals, meat, fish, & eggs that are rich in A, C, and D vitamins, calcium, & phosphorous.
They should avoid sugars and toffees candies between meals.
Follow effective dental care twice daily by flossing and brushing.
Gargling with mouthwashes or warm salt water two-four times daily.
Get a complete oral exam before the gestation and full mouth teeth cleaning.
Get into the habit of maintaining optimal hygiene to reduce plaque.
Smoking cigarettes has adverse consequences and may lead to stillbirths. So avoid smoking during pregnancy.
Alcohol consumption may interfere with the baby’s growth in the womb causing defects at birth, especially dental anomalies. So avoid the overuse of alcohol during pregnancy.
Researchers recommend a combination of personal and professional care. In pregnancy, oral health and general health are both important and more so is oral health, due to increased concern for the mother and fetus.
Dr Shashank Vijapure is an Experienced Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. He is skilled in Dental specialities like Laser Dentistry, Dental Implantology (Teeth replacements), and Periodontology (Gum diseases). Dr Shashank is a strong consulting professional with a master’s degree focused in Periodontics/Periodontology, Implant Dentistry from M.S. Ramaiah Dental college. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from esteemed SDM College of Dental Sciences and is a Certified Member of International Team for Implantology, Basel Switzerland. He writes search engine optimised content on Dental topics.