Pregnancy is a very special time in any woman’s life and the majority of women are deeply concerned with their developing child’s health and wish to do everything they can to ensure all goes well. Sometimes, we can forget to take care of ourselves however, and not realize what effects this may have.
Good oral health prior to and during pregnancy can contribute to overall general health of a woman at this critical time and potentially prevent dental emergencies from arising during gestation.
1. How Can Pregnancy Affect My Mouth?
During pregnancy, there are a lot of hormonal changes going on which in some cases can cause worsening of gum health leading to bad breath, bleeding gums, swelling and tenderness.
i. Left untreated, it can progress to more serious types of gum disease
ii. It can usually be treated by simple Scaling and Polish of the teeth and correction of oral hygiene technique
• A simple safeguard to minimize this damage is to rinse immediately after any vomiting with 1 teaspoon baking soda mixed with water to help neutralize any stomach acid left on the teethPregnant women can also be at increased risk of tooth decay if they are not as regular with their tooth-brushing and flossing during pregnancy and if they are snacking more frequently, particularly on sweets.
It is not uncommon for some women to have multiple teeth requiring extensive treatment due to decay (cavities) after pregnancy. Many of you will have heard stories from friends and family who will tell you their teeth went rotten after they became pregnant and had children!
2. Should I still see a dentist if I’m pregnant or can I delay?
Yes, dental checkups and routine procedures are safe and recommended before and during pregnancy to help avoid future problems. Your dental surgeons care about you and your baby and with appropriate planning and consultation, can help you to manage your current oral health and assist in deferring any complex treatment that may be required.
Do tell your dental surgeon at what stage of pregnancy you are at so they provide you with the most appropriate recommendation.
Avoiding or neglecting your oral health during pregnancy can cause problematic tooth and gum conditions to go undiagnosed potentially leading to severe and painful conditions later on – sometimes while still pregnant.
3. Are X-rays and Injections safe if I’m pregnant?
Dental X-rays during pregnancy are safe and can be undertaken when required with additional protective shielding for expectant mothers.
Dental anaesthetic is also safe for use in pregnant women to allow pain-free treatment when required.
4. Wisdom teeth and pregnancy
During pregnancy, many young expectant mothers experience flare ups of their wisdom teeth leading to significant pain and discomfort and in some cases severe swelling and infection of the jaws.
This flare up is best avoided and most women would agree that having a large jaw infection that requires surgery to treat is best avoided if possible when pregnant.
If you and your partner are considering conception, it is worthwhile to have a dental examination to check on the status of your wisdom teeth to ensure they are unlikely to cause significant issues during pregnancy or if they are compromised, to arrange for their removal before they can cause problem.