Healthy Smile, Healthy Motherhood
Oral health is a reflection of your overall health. Good oral health during pregnancy could also be important for your foetus
Pregnancy is a very exciting and busy time. There are so many changes going on in your body; and your mouth is no exception. Good oral hygiene is extremely important during pregnancy because the increase of hormone levels during pregnancy can cause dental problems to be intensified. Some researchers have suggested that the serious stage of gum disease, periodontitis, could cause pre-mature birth and low birth weight.
FAQs ON PREGNANCY & DENTISTRY
Will pregnancy affect my oral health?
Expectant mothers (and women who take some oral contraceptives) experience-elevated levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. This causes gums to react differently to the bacteria found in plaque and in many cases can cause a condition known as ‘pregnancy gingivitis’. Around 65 to 70 per cent of pregnant women develop gingivitis during this time. Symptoms include swollen and red gums, along with bleeding of the gums when you brush.
Pregnancy gingivitis usually starts around the second month of pregnancy and decreases during the ninth month. If you already have gingivitis, it will most likely get worse during pregnancy. Remember that the bacteria in plaque (not hormones) are what cause gingivitis. Brush twice a day and floss before you go to bed to help avoid plaque buildup. Gingivitis is most common during second to eighth months of pregnancy.
What are ‘pregnancy tumours’?
Pregnancy tumours (pyogenic granuloma) are inflammatory, benign growths that develop on the gums as part of an exaggerated response to the irritants that cause periodontal disease. These ‘tumours’ are rare, usually painless and develop on your gums in response to plaque. Although they are not cancerous, they should be treated. Pregnancy tumours usually subside shortly after childbirth.
Could gingivitis affect my baby’s health?
New research suggests a link between pre-term, low birth weight babies and gingivitis. Excessive bacteria, which cause gingivitis, can enter the bloodstream through your mouth (gums). If this happens, the bacteria can travel to the uterus, triggering the production of chemicals called ‘prostaglandins’, which are suspected to induce pre-mature labour.
Should I receive dental treatment while I am pregnant?
Good oral healthcare is vital during your pregnancy. Continue with your regular dental cleaning and checkup to avoid oral infections that can affect the foetus, such as gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Dentists recommend that major dental treatments that aren’t urgent should be postponed until after your child is born. The first trimester, the stage of pregnancy in which most of the baby’s organs are formed, is the most crucial to your baby’s development, so it is best to have procedures performed during the second trimester to minimise any potential risk.Dental work is not recommended during the third trimester because the dental chair tends to be too uncomfortable for the mother. If you lie back, the sitting position on the chair may lead to a blockage of the blood circulation by placing pressure on the vein that returns blood to the heart from the lower part of the body.
If I do need treatment, what drugs are safe?
Be extremely cautious of all drugs during pregnancy. If you have gingivitis or periodontal disease, your dentist may want to treat you more often to achieve healthy gums and a healthy baby.
Although dental anaesthetics such as Novocaine or lidocaine can enter the placenta, which filters out most drugs, the doses used in most dental procedures are considered safe.
Products containing paracetamol, such as Crocin, are approved, but you should be wary of other over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Avoid using narcotics for dental pain until after your child is born.