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Pregnancy and Dental Health

Pregnancy is a very exciting time for the whole family but particularly for women as their body undergoes tremendous changes during the 9 months. It is often a time that women look at improving their overall health to ensure the safety of their developing baby. The feeling of responsibility for the life of another human being especially their unborn child is of paramount importance to women. There is a gamut of information available about general health physical and mental well-being available to guide women through this journey.

However we often see the negative effects of pregnancy on the teeth and gums and women are often ill equipped with the right information to avoid these problems.

The old wives tale of “gain a child and lose a tooth” is commonly quoted and women expect to experience deterioration in their dental health. The claim is that calcium is lost from the teeth; however calcium from bones and not teeth is taken to provide calcium for the growing baby. The calcium is quickly replaced after pregnancy and breast feeding and does not have an impact on the strength of the teeth.

There are other factors that can cause tooth loss or dental problems in pregnancy. Proper advice and dental care can prevent the dental problems in pregnancy and dentists at the dental gallery in Point Cook, are here to help you through this time.

Things to do if you are planning to have a baby or are pregnant 

Pre-pregnancy dental health

It is important to ensure you are caring for your teeth and gums prior to planning for pregnancy. Brushing, flossing and regular dental and hygiene visits are vital for minimizing dental problems during pregnancy.

Inform your dentist and hygienist that you are pregnant or are planning to be pregnant.

The first trimester of a pregnancy is the time that many women are unaware that they are pregnant. However it is the trimester that requires the highest level of precautions and hence it is important to avoid any elective procedures during this time.

The first trimester and then the third trimester are more vulnerable periods in the pregnancy for both mother and child. The second trimester is a safe period for any elective dental procedures. These elective procedures do not include routine check-ups with your dentist and cleans with your hygienist as regular cleans are vital during all stages of pregnancy.

Pregnancy and Gum problems

Pregnancy is a time of hormonal changes. These hormonal changes cause the gums in pregnant women to mount as an exaggerated response to any plaque present on the surfaces of the teeth. The body’s response to plaque in a pregnant woman is greater than in a non-pregnant woman due to these hormones and hence pregnant women have more inflammation and bleeding of their gums (gingivitis).

Further the inflammation of the gums if not treated well during pregnancy causes periodontitis (bone inflammation) which can lead to tooth loss as the support of the tooth is affected. Further research has found a link between periodontal disease and premature births. It is reported that 18 out of 100 premature births are triggered by periodontal disease. Babies who are born premature have increased risks of adverse health conditions.

Hence it is important to have regular cleans with our hygienist during pregnancy and to maintain good home care practices of brushing and flossing. It is equally important to continue this after the birth of the baby because untreated periodontal disease during pregnancy can in some women continue on even after the birth of the baby.

Pregnancy and dental decay

Pregnancy is a time of cravings, nausea and vomiting and heartburn. All of these can damage the surfaces of the teeth in their own way leading to more dental decay of the teeth.

Undiagnosed and untreated dental caries can lead to extensive problems requiring either root canal therapy or extraction of teeth.

However there are things you can do to prevent the development of dental caries during pregnancy. These include:

  • Seeing your dentist regularly to check your teeth
  • Seeing your hygienist regularly to reduce the inflammation
  • Brushing and flossing daily – the sensation of gagging or vomiting while brushing can be overcome by using a small toothbrush; avoiding too much toothpaste; brushing in segments to avoid build-up of saliva in the mouth; concentrating on breathing through your nose while brushing slowly and trying to distract yourself by listening to music.
  • Do not brush your teeth straight after vomiting as the gastric acid in the vomit softens your teeth and if you brush straight away the enamel is eroded and worn away. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with plain tap water immediately after vomiting, rinse with fluoridated mouthwash after this and then brush your teeth only about an hour after vomiting.
  • Avoid sugar snacks or cravings and think about alternative options as increased frequency of exposure to sugar increases the risk of tooth decay. If you do eat sugary snacks try and restrict the frequency of this and brush your teeth straight after eating it.

The team at the dental gallery in Point Cook are here to support and guide you through this exciting yet challenging time in your life as we understand how important it is to maintain excellent dental health during this time.

Book in for a comprehensive examination with one of our dentists, to make sure you are on the path to health for you and your baby.