It's always a busy time when you are waiting for the little one to arrive. Most pregnant women get caught in between those trips to the doctor, hospital tours, and setting up the nursery —and they forget to pay a visit to their dentist.
Yes, it’s hard to believe that oral and dental problems can affect your unborn baby. A 2002 dental research, confirmed that if a pregnant woman has gum disease, she may give a premature birth or the baby will have a very low weight.
So, that visit to the dentist is not a waste of time; in fact, it is as important as the ultrasounds and OB/GYN visits.
Before you conceive, here is everything you need to know about the importance of oral and dental health in pregnant women.
Importance of oral health on pregnancy
As defined by the World Health Organization: Oral health is a state of being free from chronic mouthand facial pain,oraland throat cancer, oralinfection and sores, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit an individual's capacity in biting, chewing, smiling and speaking.
Oral health is an important component of general health, and it should be maintained whether one is pregnant or not. To pregnant women, oral health should be an important part of prenatal care as it may have a positive effect on cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Importance of dental health on pregnancy
Generally speaking, pregnant women have to take care of their teeth and gums for the reasons listed below:
- Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can leave your mouth more prone to plaque and bacteria. Gums can be more sensitive, red, and swollen. This gum disease is referred to as pregnancy gingivitis.
- Gingivitis can result in gum and bone infection known as periodontal disease. This infection can be so excruciating, and it can lead to gums having a burning sensation that cannot be medicated because of pregnancy.
- The gum disease itself can lead to heart problems and blood infections, and there is a high chance of these diseases being transmitted to the baby.
- Poor oral care can even affect the health of the child leading to infant death. The baby may also contract other diseases such as asthma or ear infections.
Oral and Dental health tips during pregnancy?
Although some pregnant women can make it to nine months without feeling any dental discomfort, that visit to the dentist should not fall off their to-do list. As indicated above, some of the consequences of poor dental health can affect the child and not the mother.
Here are the tips that can help you maintain good oral health when you are pregnant:
- Go and see your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. This will ensure that you are maintaining good dental health status.
- Make sure that you brush your teeth after every meal, or at least twice a day to remove plaque.
- You have to floss your teeth on a daily basis. This will help remove food debris that may be stuck between the teeth.
- You should also make use of an antimicrobial mouth rinse so as to prevent gingivitis.
- Your tongue should also be brushed or scraped every day so as to remove bacteria.
- Watch what you eat. Pregnant women should have nutritious meals, and if you are to have snacks, there have to be healthy.
Symptoms of dental and oral problems during pregnancy?
You should wait for the warning signs to start appearing before you visit your dentist. Regular check-ups during pregnancy will allow the dentist to spot potential problems even before the symptoms start appearing.
However, if you notice the following warning signs, it’s best that you make an appointment with your dentist right away:
- Loose, cracked or broken teeth
- Bad breath
- Mouth sores or lumps on the gums
- New spacing between your teeth
- Frequent dry mouth.
- Pain when chewing or biting
- Gums bleed when brushing your teeth.
- Toothache or any other pain in the mouth.
- Red, swollen, tender, or even shiny gums.
How Oral and Dental disease can impact the baby?
When brushing teeth, a pregnant woman will be doing it for two people —herself and the unborn baby. A mom’s oral and dental health is connected to the health of the infant. So, if one decides to neglect her oral and dental health when pregnant, she will also be doing a disservice to her unborn baby.
If a pregnant woman has a lot of bacteria growth in her mouth, it can also get to the bloodstream through the gums and move to the uterus, and this will result in the production of chemicals which are known as prostaglandins — and these chemicals can lead to premature birth.
Even when the baby is born, there is a possibility of the mom passing the bacteria on the little one —and this can happen through a process known as vertical transmission. So, any mother who has bacteria in her mouth, chances are high that she can transmit to the newborn baby.
So, there you have it. Whether you are pregnant or not, you should always make sure that you visit your dentists regularly. You can visit the Istanbul Dental Center for the most recent, state-of-the-art oral and dental treatment options. The center has renowned world-class dental professionals who have been administering oral and dental health services for decades.
This content is edited by Flymedi Medical Editors in September 2019.