Pregnancy and Oral Health

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time, filled with joy and excitement, and in this respect, every pregnant woman desires their baby to be healthy. The health of the child is directly related to the mother’s health. In the past, women used to visit their doctors only after they  got pregnant, but now, due to an increase in health awareness, couples seek help from doctors while planning to conceive, regarding  healthy eating habits, changing lifestyles (stop smoking and alcohol), proper exercises, screening tests to rule out any diseases and prescribing  pre-pregnancy supplements (folic acid , calcium, etc) . These processes are carried out to prepare the mother’s body for a safe pregnancy.
Every woman should visit their dentist prior to getting pregnant. These dental visits help to diagnose existing dental problems which should be dealt with, to avoid occurrence of any dental problems during pregnancy, like swollen gums, decayed and / or infected tooth, etc.
Dental care during pregnancy is equally important. A badly decayed tooth, swollen gums (gingivitis) and infected wisdom tooth, if left untreated prior to pregnancy, can act as a foci to severe dental infection which can compromise the mother‘s health. The treatment options will also be restricted since dental x-rays and certain antibiotics are best avoided. Again, due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, gum diseases are also very common. Research has shown a significant association of premature birth of babies linked to pregnant mothers with gum diseases.
Apart from gingivitis, pregnancy tumors, also known as pyogenic granulomas, are also common during pregnancy. These tumors are growths that form on your gums. They can sometimes make it hard to speak, eat, and swallow, and may cause pain or discomfort. These tumors can be removed by your dentist if necessary. Dental decay is also a common occurrence in pregnant women suffering from vomiting. Dental decay is more prevalent in  the acidic environment caused by frequent vomiting.

Care during Pregnancy
• Brush twice daily and floss between teeth to avoid plaque build-up.
• Eat balanced diet/avoid sugary snacks.
• Avoid any self medications as most of the drugs are harmful to the mother as well as the baby. Only take medications as prescribed by your doctor.
• Dental treatments are best avoided during the first and the third trimester of pregnancy.
• Teeth whitening and other cosmetic procedures are best avoided during the time of pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a time of anticipation and change. It is an exciting time and proper dental care can help keep everything going smoothly. n

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