Neither the baby nor the mother should have to be at any health risk at any expense at any time.
This includes the mother’s oral health and prevention of risk to her or her baby.
How Pregnancy Affects Your Oral Health
The old wives’ tale that precautions women to expect tooth loss while pregnant is not true. But an expectant mother may experience a change in her oral health during this critical period due to hormonal surges, food cravings, and morning sickness. Alteration in the body’s hormonal level, for one, can intensify the gums inflammatory reaction to plaque irritants.
During pregnancy, the body is prone to circulation and hormonal fluctuations that may result to an increased chance of developing gingivitis, a gum disease prevalent among 60 to 75 percent of all pregnancies. Oral health changes are most evident in the front and back teeth and can extend from the second month to a maximum of eight months in the pregnancy. If left untreated, pregnancy-related gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, a more serious kind of gum disease.
Tumor-like growths known as pyogenic granuloma or pregnancy tumor may also emerge in areas where plaque or tartar accumulate, between teeth, or in locations of frequent irritation. Although painless and benign, pregnancy tumor is actually a multifactorial disease and is certainly aggravated with poor oral health. Among its suspected runner-up co-factors are malformed blood vessels, viruses, hormones, and trauma.
Both gingivitis and pregnancy granuloma can be prevented with good oral hygiene. Professional cleaning can alleviate a pregnant woman from gingivitis. If the tumor growth causes interferences with mastication or speech, it may be necessary to have it professionally removed. Note that routine dental checkups and cleanings are still recommended even when pregnant.
While food avoidance is common with pregnant women, some may experience unusual food cravings like those who suffer from pica, a compulsive eating disorder related to substances with no or little nutritional value. Most pregnant pica sufferers may experience ice cream runs, but extreme cases involve freezer frost, paper, soil, soap, paint, and even ashes.
Ice cream like any other sugary desert may increase the chance of tooth decay. The real cause of pregnancy cravings is unknown. Some experts blame hormone changes, while others observe diet deficiency as the culprit. But whatever the real cause may be, this deprecating behavior should be curbed for the sake of oral health.
Controlling hunger binges can be hard, especially during the first trimester. Self-discipline and proper food choices can help limit food cravings. Surrendering to temptations is fine, as long as over-indulgence is avoided. Pregnant women have the option to crave instead for scrumptious fruits and vegetables that promote good oral health like cheese, apple, celery, and carrots.
Morning sickness, a common side effect of pregnancy, is experienced by an estimated 80 percent of all pregnant women. Regurgitation of food and drink exposes the oral cavity to high amounts of gastric acid. Increased sensitivity and dental enamel erosion may occur with frequent exposure to high doses of acidity.
Brushing immediately after vomiting is not recommended as this can further damage the enamel. Pregnant women are advised instead to rinse their mouths with fluoridated water or with a water-baking soda solution to stabilize the acid.
Steps to Protect Your Oral Health While Pregnant
It is always a good idea to take care of your dental health. While pregnant, there are specific practices that can aid you in this regard.
Brush twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste to keep your mouth clean, neutralize acids, and get rid of those bad taste in the mouth. If you experience gag reflexes when brushing, you can try these recommended suggestions:
- Use a small-headed brush like those made for toddlers.
- Change to a different flavor of fluoride toothpaste.
- Distract yourself by concentrating on your breathing or listening to music.
- Slow down your brushing.
- Floss daily to remove plaque trapped in-between teeth and along the gum line.
- To help prevent morning sickness, try eating unsalted crackers or dry toast after waking up in the morning.
- Increase your calcium intake. This nutritional element is not only vital for protecting bone mass, but is also essential in the growth and development of the baby.
- Eat plenty of protein and vitamins A, C, and D.
- Schedule an appointment with your dentist to resolve dental problems like gingivitis and pregnancy tumor. Always inform your dental professional about your pregnancy to avoid unnecessary exposure to medications, and so he or she can proceed with extra care, especially with conducting dental x-rays.
Pregnancy is a special phase in a woman’s life. As it is occupied with bodily and behavioral qualms and numerous possible health risks, women should likewise secure their body’s defense during this period not only to assure their overall systemic health, but also to avoid any negative pregnancy outcome like premature childbirth and delivering infants with low birth weight. Don’t take oral health problems for granted. Act now before it acts against you and your baby.