Now that you’re pregnant, or will be, it’s important to be aware of your personal health, inside and out.
Caring for two requires double the care.
When pregnant, you usually receive tons of advice about the types of food that you should eat, how to prevent stretch marks, what how to avoid morning sickness, how to cope with frequent urination, etc.
However, it’s probable that no one has ever cautioned you about the possible negative effects of poor oral health on your overall health and that of your unborn infant.
More than ever, performing good oral hygiene practices should be heightened as the body’s natural defense system is low during pregnancy. Immune deficiency intensifies the potential of causing adverse pregnancy outcomes.
The baby may swallow the oral bacteria that swarm the amniotic fluid when the fluid travels from the mother’s mouth to the uterus via the bloodstream. In fact, pregnant mothers with poor dental health have higher risks of:
- Delivering infants with low birth weight
- Experiencing pre-eclampsia
- Delivering a pre-term infant
In turn, babies with low birth weight or who are pre-term may be affected with the following complications:
- Developmental and birth abnormalities
- Behavioral problems
- Ear infections
In a report published by the National Institutes of Health in 2010, the autopsy and the pathogenic finding of a full-term stillbirth shows the existence of Fusobacterium nucleatum, a bacteria linked with periodontal disease, in the mother’s placenta, as well as in the lungs and stomach of the fetus. During pregnancy, the mother inflicted with severe gingivitis was suffering from upper respiratory tract infection, which weakens her immune system.
This provides ample opportunity for the gingival bacteria to penetrate the placenta. The case provides profound support on the importance of accessing dental care during pregnancy in contrast to the popular practice of avoiding it.
Gum disease is not the only dental threat that may affect the mother and the baby. Oral health problems like pregnancy tumor and dental caries are also notable problems.
The dental assessment of pregnant patients, including those who plan to get pregnant, should include a comprehensive evaluation of the mother’s medical history, and if possible, a communication with the patient’s obstetrician. Expectant mothers with moderate to severe gingivitis or periodontal infection are advised to visit their dental professional for preventive intervention or treatment. The basic guidelines encompassing the dental treatment of pregnant patients will certainly placate any doubt about its appropriateness.
- The most common dental treatments can be performed safely throughout the pregnancy. Elective procedures can be postponed until after childbirth.
- The second trimester and the early half of the third trimester are the ideal time to treat active dental problems like cavities.
- Regardless of the stage of pregnancy, emergency dental procedures should be administered any time.
- Chlorhexidine is safe to use any time during the pregnancy.
- To prevent potential syncope and supine hypotension, pregnant patients should be positioned comfortably all throughout the treatment process.
- To avoid damage to the fetus while conducting radiograph procedures, mothers should wear a lead apron.
- During the first trimester, nitrous oxide should be avoided. Obstetric referral is necessary if such will be used after the first trimester.
- Dental professionals are not allowed to prescribe teratogenic medications as categorized by the FDA. Teratogens can disturb fetal development and cause birth defects.
- When using a local anesthesia, a vasoconstrictor is recommended.
Due to the possible detrimental consequences of passive oral health care in unborn infants, you should be extra vigilant about your regular hygiene practices. The basics of oral hygiene like brushing twice a day and flossing daily should be reinforced by other beneficial regimens like eating foods rich in calcium, protein, and vitamins. Receiving professional dental care and treatment should not be overshadowed by doubt. Preventive care not only fortifies your oral and overall health at the moment where immunity is low, it may even save your baby’s life.