Expecting mothers bear the brunt of a lot of things. And now, dental health is one of them. For one, pregnancy can alter their hormones. This alteration affects the way their bodies process things, like how to handle plaque. For another, pregnancy has its share of demands that may affect a mother’s dental health. Lactation, for instance, can put a bender on a mother’s bones to provide an adequate amount of calcium in their milk. How, then, should pregnant mothers approach their oral health?
Answer: as carefully as possible. Some mothers might be wary of going to the dentist at this point. Most of this concern could stem from worries about the baby. Fortunately, these fears are unfounded. Dental check-ups are usually safe for pregnant women and their babies. Getting an oral check-up at this point is crucial to a mother’s overall health. During the check-up, dentists can look out for any signs of pregnancy-related complications that could develop down the line.
That said, if you’re an expecting mother who wants to zoom in on their oral health, here are some things you can do:
Know where you’re at risk
While pregnant, you might find yourself at risk of certain diseases. These risks often vary per mother. Some women go through their pregnancies without experiencing any of these issues at all. Regardless, understanding the risks can help prevent them from escalating.
Here are some common problems during pregnancy:
- Increased risk of gingivitis. While pregnant, your hormones might cause a more inflammatory response to plaque build-up than they would pre-pregnancy. This response often results in a type of gingivitis that occurs during pregnancy.
- Worsened dental conditions. If you have poor oral health before pregnancy, chances are it’ll worsen during it. Morning sickness can bring about more significant exposure to acid in the mouth, which could then exacerbate any existing cavities. And if you have any periodontal diseases, they might flare up further.
- Effects on baby. Aside from dental flare-ups, your oral problems might be hurting your baby. Some studies have shown a correlation between poor dental health and premature delivery. Babies born prematurely makes them vulnerable to a slew of health problems, a good portion of which affects their development.
- Lack of calcium. During lactation, your body may lose some bone to provide calcium for your milk. This breakdown can affect your teeth and make them more susceptible to decay.
Mitigate your risk
If you’re susceptible to any of the above, the first step to take is to lower your risk. The best way is to keep your oral hygiene routine. Following it, however, might be easier said and done.
You might find yourself more nauseous and exhausted throughout your pregnancy. If you find yourself having difficulties, you can make the needed adjustments to make brushing and flossing a little more pleasant. These adjustments can include changing up your toothbrush and toothpaste to your preference and going gentler with the brushstrokes.
Aside from this, consulting your dentist is always an indispensable resource, especially during this point in your life. During the consultation, your dentist can help treat your current oral issues to stop them from flaring up and prescribe a course of action to help you throughout your pregnancy.
Finally, you might want to watch what you eat to prevent any deficiencies. While you may lose a bit of bone density while lactating, it’s also a time where you are more likely to absorb calcium from food. That said, eating calcium-rich food should be enough to help you bounce back once your baby weans off the milk.