Oral Hygiene for Healthy Pregnancy
Recent research suggests that the hormones the body releases to trigger labor may be similar to those released in response to an infection. Pregnancy is the time to take extra-special care of your teeth and gums. Your oral health can affect the general and dental health of your unborn child.
Any infection during pregnancy is a matter of concern. A mouth infection can lead to premature birth and low birth weight, putting your unborn baby at serious risk for lifelong conditions such as cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease, or even death. In fact, pregnant women with gum disease are six times more likely to deliver their babies early than women with healthy gums. It is common for pregnant women to develop gingivitis (an inflammation of the gums) due to changes in hormones during pregnancy.
Other researches suggests a link between maternal oral health during pregnancy and the development of early childhood caries, also known as baby bottle tooth decay, affecting up to one in 10 children below the age of six in the world according to the National Centre for Health Statistics.
Since tooth decay is a communicable disease that can be transmitted from person to person, a reduction in maternal cavity-causing bacteria may diminish transmission of these bacteria between mother and child. It is important to have awareness on the importance of maintaining good oral health during pregnancy. While good oral hygiene during pregnancy is essential, it may be even more important that a woman see a dentist during her pregnancy.
Bleeding gums: Pregnancy can cause sore, bleeding and swollen gums because of hormonal changes. Your gums are more susceptible to irritation and may bleed more often when you floss or brush your teeth. Do check if you have this problem. Your gums usually clear up by themselves after the baby is born. Incase if the problem becomes too uncomfortable talk to your dentist.
You may notice a small nodule on your gum. It is called a pregnancy tumor or pyogenic granuloma and may bleed when you brush your teeth or eat. This condition usually clears up after pregnancy, but don’t ignore it if it causes you problems. If you have a dental trauma, such as an abscess or a broken tooth, take care of it immediately!
Antibiotic treatment: Before a procedure such as a root canal, your dentist may want you to take an antibiotic medication to protect you from infection. Discuss this situation with both your dentist and your doctor ahead of time. They will be able to decide the best course of action. Taking care of this kind of problem is important—an infection you have might possibly harm your baby. Together, your dentist and doctor will plan the safest course of treatment for you and your baby.
Here are some simple to help you keep your teeth in good shape.
- Brush your teeth after every meal.
- Floss teeth at least once a day.
- Have at least one check-up and dental cleaning during pregnancy, preferably after the first trimester.
If you have morning sickness, rinse teeth thoroughly after vomiting. Nausea may lead to increased snacking, and some women also allow themselves more sweets. This increases the risk of cavities. It is therefore necessary to brush your teeth more frequently than usual.
Chew a sugar-free gum for 10 minutes after eating a snack. Avoid sweet and sticky foods that tend to be high in refined sugars. Grab more wholesome foods such as cheese, fresh fruits or vegetables as it is better for your teeth. Eat all types of fruits and vegetables, preferably at every meal and as snacks. Eat grain products rich in fiber, such as breakfast cereals, oatmeal and whole grain bread.
Drink lots of water. Water and milk are the best drinks for your teeth during pregnancy. Even if your gums bleed, it is important to brush your teeth frequently and on a regular basis with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
Remember, good oral hygiene now is important for the health of your child’s teeth in the future.