Oral and Dental Diseases
Pregnant Women’s Oral and Dental Health

​Summary:

  • During pregnancy, a lot of physical changes occur, which can affect a woman's oral health. 
  • New dietary habits and hormonal changes are the most common causes of oral and dental problems during pregnancy.
  • Some of these problems include: periodontitis, dental erosion and caries, and benign pregnancy tumors in the gums.
  • Before any procedure is taken, your dentist must be informed that you are pregnant. 
  • It is specifically essential to look after dental health during pregnancy. 

Overview:
Pregnancy is a unique period in a woman's life; as many physical changes occur, which may affect her oral health. Oral and dental health is the key to a good health in general. Moreover, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are safe and effective practices to improve a pregnant woman's health. They are also crucial for the health of her fetus.

Consequences of neglecting cleaning your teeth:
Neglecting to clean your teeth with a brush and a toothpaste leads to the accumulation of plaque on the surface of your teeth. This can cause bacteria to breed, which would, in turn, cause tooth decay and gum infections. Bacteria produce acids that attack the teeth and lead to their breakage and the occurrence of cavities, as well as other types of bacteria cause gum infections.

Changing your toothbrush: 
It is recommended to change your toothbrush every 3 or 4 months, or when its bristles seem frayed. This will ensure it cleans your teeth effectively and does not damage your gum tissues. 

Common dental problems during pregnancy: 
Several problems may be more likely to occur during pregnancy. They; however, return back to normal after birth. They include: 
  • Gingivitis: It can happen due to hormonal changes which increase the response of gum tissue to bacteria.
  • Tooth decay: Tooth decay is not a disease that occurs due to pregnancy. It is caused by bacteria and wrong eating habits. During pregnancy, your diet may change (e.g. increased snacking), or the acidity of the mouth could increase due to vomiting, dry mouth, or poor oral hygiene caused by nausea and vomiting. 
  • Dental erosion: Vomiting occurs as a result of morning sickness. During the first trimester of pregnancy, vomiting and reflux tend to to be frequent, which causes stomach acids to touch your teeth.
  • Pregnancy tumors (pyogenic granuloma): It is an increased growth of tissue on the gums, which may occur due to hormonal changes in the body.

Gingivitis:
Healthy gums are pink, taut to hold the teeth, and never bleed when touched or brushed. Gingivitis often does not cause any pain. You may not even know that you have it, so it is recommended to get a periodic dental check-up. 

Gingivitis symptoms during pregnancy: 
  • Redness and swelling of the gums
  • Gums bleeding after brushing or flossing
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Difficulty or pain chewing 
  • Tooth loss
Some studies have shown that a pregnant woman with gingivitis may be more prone to certain problems, such as: Preterm birth or baby low birth weight.

When to see a doctor?
  • If you have minor tooth and mouth problems
  • If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth
  • If the last time you saw your dentist was 6 month or more before your pregnancy 

Before any procedure is taken, your dentist must be informed that you're pregnant. You should also inform him of the medications and vitamins you're taking to avoid discrepancies and interruptions to his treatment plan. 

Preventing oral and dental problems during pregnancy: 
  • Keep your teeth especially clean during pregnancy, because pregnancy can make you more prone to gingivitis.
  • Ask your dentist if applying new fillings can be delayed until you give birth or replaced with crowns. 
  • Vomiting directly exposes your teeth to stomach acids, so you should avoid brushing your the teeth immediately afterwards.
  • Rinse your mouth with a glass of water mixed with a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate after vomiting to decrease acidity in your mouth.  
  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristle brush for 2 minutes. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Also, make sure you floss at least once a day. 
  • Use a mouthwash that is free of alcohol, sugars, or fresheners that irritate the gums.
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly after every meal. 
  • Your dentist may recommend using topical fluoride to decrease teeth erosion. 
  • Do not delay treatment of minor dental problems to avoid their development.
  • Avoid smoking (both first-hand and second hand).
  • Chew your food well to strengthen the jaw muscles, and facilitate digestion and metabolism.
  • Get proper nutrition and follow the instructions below: 
    • Avoid foods that are rich in sugar (e.g. sweets). 
    • Choose low-sugar snacks (e.g. Cheese, vegetables, etc). 
    • Do not wait too long to brush your teeth after eating sweet foods, even if they're natural foods.  
    • Drink enough water and milk, and avoid sugar-rich beverages and sodas. 

FAQs:
  • Can I get my tooth extracted or get root canal treatment (endodontics) during pregnancy? 
    • A: Yes, you can, whenever necessary. Generally, it’s preferred to postpone any dental procedures to the second trimester of your pregnancy. 
  • Are dental x-rays and local anesthesia safe during pregnancy?
    • A: Yes, dental diagnostic x-rays and dental local anesthesia are considered safe during pregnancy, as long as all proper medical procedures are taken. 
  • Does the fetus absorb calcium from the mother's bones and teeth?
    • A: The fetus gets the amount of calcium it needs from the food that the mother eats, not from her teeth or bones. Therefore, pregnant moms must eat calcium-rich foods. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe calcium supplements during the pregnancy.
  • Does pregnancy cause dental problems that may not have existed before?
    • A: Pregnancy is n​ot expected to cause dental problems as long as oral and dental health is maintained during pregnancy.

Myths & Truths
  • With every pregnancy, you're bound to lose a tooth. 
    • Truth: There is no scientific evidence to support this statement. 

Clinical Education General Department
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Last Update : 10 June 2021 02:41 AM
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