pregnancy and oral health
Did you know that every pregnant woman
must visit the dentist?
The biggest physical and hormonal changes
in a woman's life occur during pregnancy
and one of the many variations in a woman's body happens in the mouth (oral cavity).
We believe it is critical that women visit the dentist before pregnancy and at least once
per trimester during pregnancy.
Every pregnant woman must receive a
diagnosis and information about her oral health
as well as the correct oral health habits,
in order to decrease her own and
her future baby's risks of oral diseases.
TOPICS OF INTEREST:
- Caries: Against popular belief, there is no proven direct relation between caries and pregnancy. However, pregnancy causes a series of changes in nutrition habits and in the mouth that can promote caries development:
- Certain bacteria increase during pregnancy.
- Saliva becomes more acid.
- More food is ingested, due to a greater energy need.
The increase of the frequency and the amount of food, the bacteria and the acidity of saliva –as well as the little attention given to oral health- may elevate the future mother's caries risk.
- Gingivitis: (swelling of gums): it is the most common finding in pregnant women. Gingivitis consists on an inflammation of the gums, which become redder, more sensitive and with a tendency to spontaneous bleeding or caused by stimuli such as brushing or chewing. The reason why hormones increase the swelling of gums has not been determined. However, if a woman has gingivitis, it tends to get worse during pregnancy.
- Granuloma Granuloma or pregnancy tumour: a small percentage of pregnant women show a localized growth of the gum, usually between the superior incisor teeth. It is a benign and symptomless vascular injury of undetermined causes, which bleeds easily, grows rapidly and gets reabsorbed or disappears after giving birth. Sometimes it needs to be surgically removed.
- For over a decade, different authors have reported a possible association between maternal periodontal (gum) disease and premature births and/or underweight babies. However, whether this disease is the single cause or just one of many maternal factors that cause it has not been determined yet.
- What is evident is that to decrease premature births and the amount of babies born underweight it is necessary to have thorough dental care and to receive optimal periodontal treatment during pregnancy.
- The dietary habits of a pregnant woman can affect the dental growth and development of the foetus, particularly from its conception until the sixth month of intrauterine life.
- A future mother must keep in mind that refined carbohydrates are more cariogenic (they cause more caries) and therefore she must avoid them. If she eats them between meals, it is advisable that she brushes her teeth immediately after.
- Prenatal fluoride: most scientists agree that it is ineffective. Apparently fluoride permeates through the wall of the placenta, though the amount assimilated by the foetus after it is discharged and deposited in the mother's skeleton is unknown.
- Bacteria that cause caries in babies are typically obtained by direct transmission from their mothers' saliva. The earlier the transmission is and the more cariogenic the baby's diet is the more substantial this transmission will be. Therefore, mothers with a history of high caries risk are more likely to contain high levels of bacteria in their saliva, exposing their children to a higher risk of developing early childhood caries.
- It has been proven that chewing xylitol-based chewing gum and rinsing with chlorhexidine-based mouthwash towards the end of the pregnancy or after giving birth decreases the amount of bacteria in the maternal flora and reduces the transmission of bacteria to the baby Ask your dentist if he considers you would benefit from these treatments.
- t is a proven fact that the reduction of caries and bacterial flora in a woman not only improves her own health but also reduces the risk of bacterial transmission to her future child. The children of women who take part in preventive programs have less caries.
- There is no inconvenient in receiving routine dental treatment during pregnancy. The use of anaesthesia in pregnant women is totally safe. As for dental x-rays, they are not directed to the abdomen and the amount of radiation they produce is very low, so the teratogenic risk (harm to the foetus) of the exposure is 1000 times less than the risk of having a spontaneous abortion.
- If you are planning a pregnancy or if you learn you are pregnant make an appointment with your dentist so he/she can examine your mouth and assess your risk of periodontal disease and caries, as well as the preventive measures you should take.
- If you suffered from Gingivitis or Periodontitis before pregnancy the disease could get worse. You must go to the dentist to tell you what to do.
- If you are having reflux or vomits they can erode your teeth’s enamel. The dentist can indicate you various measures to neutralize the acids of the stomach and avoid caries and/or dental sensitivity.
- You must perform a thorough daily oral hygiene: brush your teeth after every meal or snack and floss between the molars every night. You can use Fluoride, Chlorhexidine or Xylitol-based chewing gum if your dentist advises it.
- Your nutrition can influence in the growth and development of your baby. It is very important to maintain a balanced diet and to avoid eating sugar, industrialized juices, pastry and sodas, especially between meals.
- Once your baby is born, you will be able to prevent him/her from having caries in the future. Start cleaning his/her mouth as early as possible. You can clean his/her gums with moistened gauze, moistened cloth or a silicone rubber fingertip toothbrush during his/her bath. Once the first milk tooth erupts it is critical to clean your baby's mouth after breastfeeding or drinking from the bottle.
- You can prevent transmitting him/her bacteria from your mouth through saliva by avoiding habits such as sharing spoons, putting pacifiers into your mouth to clean them, etc.
- Before your baby’s first birthday it is highly advisable you take him/her to the Paediatric dentist for a thorough assessment of his/her caries risk and the preventive methods to avoid oral diseases.
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