Oral Health and Pregnancy

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Starting a family is exciting and daunting all at the same time. If you are thinking about getting pregnant, one of the items on your ‘to do’ list should be to have a dental check-up. Having your general and oral health in great condition is a must to provide the best environment for your little growing baby. And whilst dental treatment is still safe to receive during pregnancy, it is preferred that examinations and general treatment are carried out prior.

Severe gum disease when pregnant has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. A 2019 study showed a positive link between maternal gum disease and preterm birth. These associations include low birthweight, pre-term birth (early birth) and pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure).

If you are pregnant and worried that you may now affect the growing foetus with treatment of gum problems, don’t be. It is safe to receive treatment for gum disease when pregnant and this may help with reducing the complications that could arise. Changes in the gum can also occur during pregnancy which are often due to hormonal changes. Gum inflammation can appear worse during pregnancy, however it is best to see your dentist to determine the cause of this as it may be undiagnosed gum disease that may affect the development of your growing baby.

Although pregnancy does not directly cause oral disease, factors associated with pregnancy can increase individual risk of developing tooth decay, loss of tooth structure, or gingival conditions. Expectant mothers experiencing reflux or vomiting can be at increased risk of developing tooth erosion from the prolonged contact of stomach acids on the surfaces of the teeth. Often expectant mothers want to brush their teeth straight after an episode to freshen their mouth. This is unfortunately very damaging to the teeth surfaces as they become softened from the acid insult and you inadvertently will brush parts of the tooth away. Over time, this can cause discolouration of teeth due to thinning of the tooth enamel exposing the yellow dentine as well as causing dentine sensitivity.

Expectant mothers experiencing morning sickness or reflux should wait a minimum of 60 minutes before brushing their teeth. While waiting to brush, they can choose to use fluoridated mouthwash, bicarbonate soda and water rinse or tap water to rinse their mouth. When pregnant and/or breastfeeding, it is totally safe to consume fluoridated water. The level of fluoride in breast milk remains steady when nursing mothers drink fluoridated water. Infant formula can also be reconstituted with fluoride water with no risk to baby.

Dietary changes can increase risk of dental caries, especially if snacking frequently and/or consuming an increased number of products with added sugar. Frequent snacking does not provide the oral environment with time to recover before additional acid attacks to the teeth, creating the ideal environment for caries development.

It is important to keep an eye on your mouth during pregnancy and visit your dentist regularly to prevent mouth diseases or stop them from getting worse.


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