The old wives tale of losing a tooth for every baby will become true if you don’t take proper precaution and delay your visit to the dentist during your pregnancy.
The phase of pregnancy is a happy one. In this phase your tooth does not automatically get damaged. Nobody wants to visit the dentist for any painful procedures. But then pregnancy at times leads to a lot of gum diseases and you are at a high risk of tooth decay as well.
Planning on getting pregnant but you are also planning on having some elective dental procedures done?
Pause. First go see your dentist. It is advisable to have your elective procedures done before you conceive. However, non-urgent procedures can be performed after the first trimester. Changes in your body during pregnancy can affect your teeth and gums. For example:
- Pregnancy comes with increased levels of the most commonly heard hormones – progesterone and estrogen. This increases the risk of certain dental problems.
- You start craving for food and your eating habits may change. The eating frequency also changes with lots of mid meal munches. Most pregnant women crave for sour and sweet food. Foods containing high sugar affect the teeth.
- When your gums are tender or when you’re more tired than usual, you might brush and floss your teeth less frequently than you do regularly. And not to mention, for some women, brushing and flossing may cause nausea (I’m sure you know how it feels when your stomach rumbles).
Dental disease and the baby inside
There’s been a lot of research between gum disease in pregnant women and premature birth with low birth weight. Almost up to 18 out of every 100 premature births may be triggered by a chronic infection of the gums. Timely and appropriate dental treatment for the expectant mother may help in reducing the risk of premature birth.
Tell your dentist if you are pregnant
It is absolutely necessary to let your dentist know the names and dosages of all drugs you are taking – including medications, frequency and how long you’ve been using them. Do not miss to mention if you have been prescribed any prenatal vitamins by your doctor. This may help your dentist to alter your dental treatment plan or the prescribed medicines based on this information you give them.
Are dental X-rays safe? Will it affect my baby?
Long answer short – Yes. they are completely safe. Dental X-rays use very small amounts of radiation, and your dentist will cover you with a special apron and collar shielding your abdomen and thyroid to protect you and your baby.
Most common causes of dental problems –
- Weak gums, infections or swelling
- Your sweet and sour cravings
- Brushing techniques
1. Weak gums, infections or swelling
The hormones are to blame. Many women experience gum problems because of the hormones that are gushed out in plenty.
- Gingivitis or mostly commonly called as gum inflammation is one of the common gum problems faced by pregnant women. Your second trimester is a roller coaster ride. Do not panic when your gums swell or bleed when you brush or floss between the teeth. It is caused by your weak gums. Untreated gingivitis can also lead to tooth loss in rare cases.
- Your gums may enlarge during pregnancy. It is called epulis oral pyogenic granuloma which leads to bleeding of gums. Do visit your dentist at the early stage to avoid complications.
- Plaque does not suddenly increase during pregnancy. The increased hormones makes your gum react more towards the plaque and hence the problems.
Most of the gum problems go away on its own after delivery. But then some may have developed a deeper level which will need treatment to resolve. So please visit your dentist after the delivery if your problem still persists.
The ring of muscle inside the stomach (which has the food) gets softened due to the new pregnancy hormones secreted. And gastric reflux (regurgitating food or drink) or the morning sickness vomiting can coat your teeth with strong stomach acids which may damage tooth enamel and increases the risk of tooth decay.
What to do after you vomit:
- Brush your teeth at least an hour after vomiting and not immediately after. The bristles of the toothbrush may scratch the tooth enamel which might be covered with the stomach acid.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with plain tap water and then rinse with fluoridated mouthwash.
Retching while brushing teeth
This shouldn’t be a reason which should stop you from brushing. Some experience retching when they try to brush their molars and for some when they think about brushing itself.
What to do when you retch or have that sensation.
- Use a toddler brush. Small heads may help.
- Concentrate on your breathing and not brushing by closing your eyes.
- Try diverting your thoughts to something nice or listen to your favorite music.
- Lime, Lavender, oranges or coffee can change the mood.
3. Food cravings while pregnant
Many women experience unusual food cravings (and food avoidance) while they are pregnant. A low-sugar food may help in keeping a check on your tooth decay.
You can also relish on fresh fruits instead of sugar for your sweet cravings. It is advisable to rinse your mouth with water or preferably brush your teeth after munching them.
With proper hygiene at home and professional help from your dentist, your teeth should remain healthy throughout pregnancy. And yeah, your inherited genes also play a major role in your teeth.