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28th August 2020  •  Read 0 times

How to maintain good oral health during pregnancy

Pregnancy and the lead up to planning for one can be a mixture of emotions, and a rollercoaster of biological changes.  As women we take it on the chin, we manage to adapt, and week by week we somehow succeed to get over the hurdles of whatever our body throws at us: The nausea, the bloating, the insomnia, the general soreness our body feels as it stretches and changes in size and shape, except we just cannot shake off…toothache. No matter what remedies we try there is just no avoiding a trip to the dentist if you are unfortunate enough to experience the agony that comes from poor oral health during pregnancy.

As a dentist, it really does hurt the toothy loving part of my heart when expectant mothers come into my clinic in tears because of gum or tooth pain as a result of poor oral health during their pregnancy. It hurts because – she need not go through it at all! I promise you almost every tooth and gum ailment is preventable.  I hope to be able to address this all for you in my humble attempt to instill in you a little more love towards your own oral health during your pregnancy.

Considering the amount of public health awareness surrounding what foods and lifestyle habits are important for a healthy pregnancy, it is quite disappointing to see that not much emphasis is placed on where it all begins- the mouth! The entryway to the rest of your body and to your baby. I always wondered why I often saw pregnant ladies on an emergency clinic. Were these ladies just neglecting themselves? Did they really not know about the importance of oral health during pregnancy?  As a first-time expectant mother now halfway through my own pregnancy, I finally get to see what sort of advice and guidance there is for mothers-to-be and was quite shocked to see, at least in my experience- there is none, just a quick mention by my midwife that I would now be eligible for free prescriptions and free NHS dentistry if I filled out a form.

Gums

Hormonal changes are very substantial during pregnancy, and our gums get to experience some changes as this happens- they tend to get more sore and bleed. The slightest bit of plaque build-up would result in an exaggerated amount of inflammation and swelling- thank you Oestrogen and Progesterone- your presence is well and truly known every time we spit out blood after brushing!

We would never ignore a bleeding eye, nor a bleeding nose – yet because it is often painless, bleeding gums are just shrugged off and ignored. When gums bleed, see it as a sign that they are crying for some TLC. If ignored the inflammation that initially affects just the gums will eventually travel down to the jaw bone that holds your teeth in place and cause the bone to slowly dissolve away leading to the feeling of loose teeth, and in some severe cases to the loss of teeth.  Believe me, I have seen many tears in my dental chair over the loss of teeth. It really is heart-breaking to end up with gaps in your smile.

Research has also found that if you are pregnant and have poor gum health there may be an increased risk of  giving birth prematurely, giving birth to an underweight child and also pre-eclampsia. If you still choose to smoke during your pregnancy your gum problem will be exacerbated even further alongside the risks passed onto your baby.

Simple solution:

Brush more and floss daily.

It is a bore we know, but investing 2-3 minutes of your time twice a day will save you hours of spending time with your local friendly dentist. (We are nice human beings but we appreciate why you might not like to come in to see us for treatments)

There is a technique to brushing – make sure you always angle the brush towards your gums (45 degrees) and give them a good massage as you brush each tooth in circles- no brushing vigorously back and forth! If you notice your gums bleed, do not panic and do NOT stop brushing, keep going, if your inflammation is in the early stages you will notice the gums firm up, and the bleeding stops after about 7-10 days. This indicates your gums going back to health.

See your dentist or hygienist regularly for your professional clean- it is perfectly safe to do so during your pregnancy. They will help you maintain your gums and pick up any issues early before they progress.

Teeth

“My baby sucked out the calcium from my teeth.”

Sorry to break it to you, but although your tiny one is wreaking havoc in so many ways as it grows inside you, it just does not quite have this power over your pearly whites. What tends to happen is your mouth takes quite a battering during your pregnancy, from the acids from all the vomiting and nausea, to all the sweets and sugary snacks you consume to help you keep the food down, and not to mention- the regular snacking. I get it, the hunger strikes pretty often for me at the moment.

When an expectant mother attends with toothache and it turns out her tooth is infected and needs either an extraction or a root canal treatment (a procedure which removes the infected nerve from within the tooth to save the tooth from extraction) it usually means that cavity has been there for a very long time, sometimes even preceding pregnancy and it has just progressed and got worse over time eventually leading to a tooth infection. No healthcare professional enjoys putting anyone pregnant on antibiotics or undergo extensive treatment on them, although they would only do so if it is safe. Generally it is better to prevent any issues in the first place. 

Simple solutions:

Lessen the snack attacks

Try to replace any processed sugary snacks with healthier options. This way every time you snack, the attack on the teeth is less powerful ensuring you do not end up with cavities leading to tooth pain.

Fluoridated toothpaste/ mouthwash

Ensure you use a fluoridated toothpaste. Read the label it should mention a number ranging from 1,350 to 1,500 ppm Fluoride. These tend to be the most effective over the counter toothpastes you can get.

After vomiting, the acids from your stomach can really wear your teeth down- ensure you rinse out right away with water or a fluoridated mouthwash to reduce the effects of acid erosion.

Say hi to your local Dentist at least once- twice a year

Probably the most important tip of all- if you are planning to get pregnant, see your dentist ahead of time, allow them to assess the health of your teeth and gums, tailor the advice to suit you and get you to a healthy standard before your pregnancy rather than pick up issues during your pregnancy that may be more challenging to treat. The less we expose you to x-ray radiation and treatment during your pregnancy the better!

To book an appointment with myself or one of our other highly skilled Dentists at OSD Healthcare, simply call 01442 331 900 or complete the contact form here.

Original source: https://midwifemarley.com/pregnancy-and-your-mouth/

Picture of Ola Hassan
About the author
Ola Hassan

Dentist

Dr Ola Hassan qualified in 2011 from the University of Leeds with Merit and achieved multiple university awards including achieving 1st place in the UK for a case she presented. She went on to complete her vocational training in London after which she focused on progressing her dental skills within restorative dentistry through being mentored for over 2 years by a restorative consultant.  Alongside this role she was also a clinical tutor to undergraduate dental students at the University of Birmingham. Ola constantly strives to provide the best treatment possible for her patients. Not only does this apply in what she does clinically but she also ensures that her patients’ dental experience is as comfortable as possible. Ola loves being part of the team at OSD Healthcare as she feels she can really take the time she needs to listen to her patients and their concerns. She loves being able to address problems that have bothered her patients for years whilst maintaining standards to ensure the best possible results for them. She has a lovely personality and is passionate about achieving results, Ola pays attention to detail in all that she does. She believes in the notion that if her patients are happy then so is she. She looks forward to many years of working at OSD Healthcare welcoming new patients and continuing her care for her existing patients.

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