A barrage of health issues confronts women during pregnancy.
Although overlooked or simply avoided, oral health should form an essential part in the expectant mother’s overall health concern.
Oral health problems like periodontitis is found to be closely linked with various serious diseases, including respiratory infections, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and Alzheimer disease. These formidable infirmities affect women at any given period in their entire lifespan.
However, due to various incriminating factors like hormonal imbalance, decreased immune defense, poor hygiene, and inappropriate diet, pregnant women are more susceptible to developing or aggravating existing oral health infections.
Dental Health Setbacks During Pregnancy
Typically, prenatal appointments do not integrate oral health care awareness and education. Obstetricians should encourage their pregnant patients of the importance of seeking dental examination and advice regarding any suspected oral infection.
Changes in hormonal level during pregnancy can lead to oral cavity changes. Gingivitis is the most common oral infection and is prevalent among 30 to 100 percent of pregnancies. During pregnancy, the fluctuation in progesterone and estrogen supply and decreased immunity protection intensifies the body’s natural inflammatory reaction. Although gingivitis eventually subside, severe cases necessitate professional intervention. Emphasis should be allocated on proper home care routines like brushing and flossing.
Loose Teeth / Tooth Mobility
Loose teeth or tooth mobility may signify bone loss around the tooth as a result of gum disease. However, due to lack of concrete evidence relating the two, a comprehensive examination is necessary. Mobility may be attributed to the increased level of estrogen and progesterone that affects the gum tissues. Nevertheless, should the mother suffer from a confirmed periodontal disease, immediate treatment should be administered.
Pregnancy tumor is a painless, benign, vascular contusion associated with plaque irritants and hormonal fluctuations. Surgical treatment may be necessary to remove these lesions, especially if they interfere with chewing, do not go away after childbirth, or bleed.
The increased acid in the mouth due to vomiting, frequent consumption of carbohydrate-rich meals, and poor oral hygiene exacerbate the advancement of dental caries. Pregnant women should maintain appropriate home oral care and limit snacking to modest portions of healthful foods to avoid vomiting and nausea.
Oral Health Care While Pregnant
Pregnancy is a stage where women are inspired to adopt healthy attitudes. Both obstetric and dental professionals can gravely influence expectant mothers to initiate and maintain dental care during pregnancy to sustain both the latter’s systemic health needs and that of their infant.
On the other hand, pregnant women should not hesitate about scheduling appointments with their dentist if the need arises.
- Expectant mothers should inform their dentist that they are pregnant. As a preventive measure, dental treatments on the first and third trimesters has to be avoided, except for emergency cases. These periods are critical for fetal growth and development. Exposing the mother to these procedures and certain medications might have contraindicative effects on the child. However, it is safe to receive routine oral health care during the second trimester. All non-compulsory treatments should be deferred until after childbirth.
- Pregnant women should let their dentist know the names and dosages of all the medications that they are currently using. This includes the prenatal supplements recommended by their obstetrician. There should be an open line of communication between their prenatal care provider and dental health professional. In that manner, the right dental treatment plan can be formulated based on the mother’s current health status.
- As much as possible, a pregnant woman should avoid X-rays. However, in the case of a dental emergency and other treatments deemed necessary, dentists will exert extra care to protect the mother and her infant. Today, the safety of radiography has immensely improved thanks to technological advancement.
- A pregnant woman should not put off a dental appointment simply because she is expecting. Regardless of the stage of pregnancy, they should not hesitate about receiving regular periodontal examination. Now more than any other moment, pregnancy-related hormonal imbalance increases the risk of periodontal diseases and other oral infection.
- They should maintain good oral hygiene regimens to prevent, if not minimize, dental problems.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid sugary snacks.
Regular dental care is a vital component to good general and oral health. Although there’s no conclusive evidence that prenatal dental care improves pregnancy outcomes, definitive proofs can substantiate the safety and effectiveness of oral health care during pregnancy. The dissemination of information and awareness about the importance of oral health is and should be a shared effort between obstetricians and dentists.