Are you worried that dental treatment during your pregnancy might not be safe?
Let us put your mind at rest. Make sure you inform your dentist and they will consider all the options available to safely provide an appropriate dental care plan throughout your pregnancy.
However, while it may be far from your mind right now, this is a very important time to think about the health of your teeth and mouth. In fact, your mouth may need extra attention during your pregnancy, as the changes in hormone levels may increase your risk of dental problems.
What are the increased risks to oral health that pregnant women can experience?
Enamel erosion – morning sickness can be damaging to the surface of the teeth, due to the contact from stomach acid. Our advice is to rinse with water or a non-alcohol based mouth wash after being sick and do not brush your teeth straight away as they will be softened by the acid from your stomach. Wait about an hour before doing so.
- Cavities – if your cravings are for sweet things, the increased acidity in your mouth will put you at higher risk of tooth decay. Snacking leads to a sticky film of bacteria forming on your teeth, also known as plaque. The bacteria convert sugar and starch that remain in the mouth after eating to acid that attacks tooth enamel. The longer the sugars remain in your mouth, the longer the acids attack. Repeated acid attacks result in tooth decay.
This is why brushing twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste is essential to remove soft plaque.
- Gum disease – Inflammation shown as redness or bleeding of the gingiva (gums) during pregnancy can lead to gum disease. Gingivitis during pregnancy may be due to high levels of the hormone oestrogen.
If gingivitis leads to periodontitis, this can set off a chain of reactions interfering with normal body workings and result in a preterm or low birth weight baby.
Research has shown that women who are successfully treated for their periodontal disease have significantly lower incidence of these outcomes.
Studies have also shown that pregnant women with periodontal disease are more likely to develop gestational diabetes mellitus than those with healthy gingiva.
Gestational diabetes itself can lead to pre-term delivery and put mothers at greater risk of developing type-two diabetes in later life.
Research has also found a link between periodontitis and pre-eclampsia, a condition that can put both mother and baby at considerable health risk, even with fatal consequences.
If you require X-rays during your pregnancy, rest assured your dental professional will assess the risk against the need. However our modern digital technology significantly reduces the radiation exposure, so safe for you and safe for baby.
The key take home message is don’t shy away from visiting your dentist because you are pregnant. Dental care and your oral health are especially essential at this time.
A good dental care routine will control plaque and reduce the risk of gingivitis, keeping you and your baby healthy.
Visit your Dentist/Hygienist regularly and follow their advice about how to properly care for your teeth.
They will be able to offer you the best advice at this time and discuss any concerns you may have.