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Dental Care During Pregnancy

You might not think much of dental care when you’re pregnant, but do be informed that pregnancy may cause hormonal changes that increase the risk of developing gum disease which, in turn, can affect the health of your developing baby.

Many women run into dental problems during pregnancy, including gum disease and increased risk of tooth decay. This is because during pregnancy, your increased hormones can affect your body’s response to plaque (the layer of germs on your teeth). However, with proper hygiene at home and professional help from your dentist, your teeth should remain healthy throughout pregnancy.

Risks to the baby

Maintaining a healthy mouth during the nine months of gestation is important not only for the expecting mom, but also for the baby’s development, as decaying teeth have been associated with systemic infection which can adversely affect a growing fetus in numerous ways such as:

  • Spontaneous miscarriage
  • Premature labor and birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Still born

It may seem unrealistic that a pregnant mom’s oral issues can have such affects on her unborn baby, but the fact is, an infectious process affecting the mother’s body not only weakens her immune defense, but can lead to the tooth decay having transient bacteria reaching the fetus.

Under normal healthy conditions a mother’s immune system will take care of this bacteria. Problems may arise however, when a secondary infection, such as an infection after a severe cough or cold, affects the mothers health. Her immune system is then compromised, allowing bacteria to travel throughout the body, reaching the uterus and placenta. If you think you may be having a tooth infection or bleeding gums, let your doctor or dentist know at once.

Adequate dental care

Routine dental care can be done any time during pregnancy, but you should let your dentist know that you’re pregnant during the first trimester. Any urgent procedure can be done, as well, but the dentist will probably advise you against elective dental procedures until after the delivery.

Before your dental appointment, check with your obstetrician for any special precautions/instructions to be aware of. Your dentist on the other hand, should be made aware of the names and dosages of all drugs you are taking – including medications and prenatal vitamins prescribed by your doctor. Your dentist can then adjust your dental treatment based on this information.

Pay particular attention to any changes in your gums during pregnancy. If tenderness, bleeding or gum swelling occurs at any time during your pregnancy, talk with your dentist or periodontist as soon as possible. Follow good oral hygiene practices to prevent and/or reduce oral health problems.

Pre-pregnancy dental health

You are less likely to have dental problems during pregnancy if you already have good oral hygiene habits. Suggestions include:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Floss between your teeth.
  • Visit your dentist regularly.

 

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