Oral Health Care During Pregnancy | Dr N Layyous

Why Oral Health Care Becomes All the More Important During Pregnancy?

A recent online research conducted across 12 countries has revealed some of the major misconceptions that people have when it comes to dental care.


For instance, many still believe it's important to brush their teeth immediately after every meal, or rinse their mouth out with water right after brushing.


However, according to FDI World Dental Federation - a person ideally should brush after 30 minutes of eating to avoid any weakening tooth enamel, and delay the rinsing of mouth to allow the fluoride to have longer preventative effects!


This lack of knowledge and bad oral health practices significantly increases the chances of oral disease, pain and discomfort, and being visually unappealing that ends up impacting a person’s self-confidence.


Oral health care is crucial to our overall well-being and better quality of life. It becomes all the more important during pregnancies since the female body undergoes several transient changes, including oral cavity.


A pregnant woman experiencing several psychological and hormonal changes tends to snack more and at odd times during this period, thereby increasing the risk for various oral diseases like - Gingivitis (inflammation or bleeding gums), Pyogenic Granulomas (tumors), Gingival Hyperplasia (enlargement of oral tissues), Dental Caries (decaying of tooth) or even a dry mouth.


Any untreated cavity or gum disease can adversely affect the health of an unborn child and may also lead to serious conditions like premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, low birth weight, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.


As per stats, 80% women suffer from gingival inflammation during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, while 77.4% of pregnant women with gestational diabetes had ‘Periodontitis’ (inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures supporting the teeth).


This is because the higher concentrations of oestrogen and progesterone during pregnancy induce hyperaemia, oedema and bleeding in periodontal tissues that increases the risk of bacterial infections.


Unfortunately, a considerable amount of women enter pregnancy with unnoticeable or mild oral diseases.


While half of these women ignore the dental care despite being aware of their oral issues, many even fear that the numbing medications would hamper the development of their fetuses. As a result, they end up suffering more since the disease becomes more severe as the pregnancy advances.


Taking precautions at the early stages of pregnancy can minimize any further risk to you and your baby.


It’s very important to know that routine dental examinations, cleanings or treatment can easily be performed during normal pregnancy. So start by getting a dental checkup done as soon as possible.


Pay extra attention to red, swollen or bleeding gums and any loose or sensitive teeth. Check for pus in and around your gums, or any dark spots on your teeth. See if you experience any pain while chewing or if you have bad breath.


Sometimes, morning sickness or nausea during pregnancy may hinder dental hygiene. Women may find it extremely difficult to place anything in their mouth, leave alone brushing or flossing. Also, the rise in stomach acid due to esophageal reflux, vomiting or severe heartburns can also upset the gingival tissue - leading to dental erosion.


While these oral issues are treatable, maintaining oral hygiene at all times will drastically reduce the risk of experiencing the discomfort - associated with these diseases.


Eating a well-balanced and healthy diet; controlling plaque by proper brushing, flossing and using a mouth-wash twice every day; rinsing the mouth with water after vomiting or acidic burps; avoiding sugar or sugary fruit drinks as much as possible and a regular visit to your dentist - are just some of the basic preventative strategies.


Contributed by: Jenny Travens

Last Update: 2011-09-01