Pregnancy is an incredible and beautiful time in any woman’s life. Whether the pregnancy was long awaited or was a complete surprise, there is nothing quite like the anticipation and excitement of preparing to meet a new born baby. However, this does bring with it, a package full of surprises for the mother-to-be.

Association Between Pregnancy And Dental Health
During pregnancy, the increased hormonal changes can majorly deteriorate the body’s response to plaque on the teeth and various microbial pathogens, thereby increasing the risk of dental diseases. The compromised dental health of the mother can further impact the health of the developing baby. The importance of dental hygiene is not often much stressed upon. The fact which is still unknown by most of the population is, infections that start in the mouth can spread to various parts of the body and these ill-effects shoot up during the pregnancy.

Common Dental Issues During Pregnancy
The two most commonly encountered dental problems by pregnant females are gum diseases and tooth decay. Research has found a considerable link between gum diseases in pregnant women and premature, low birth weight babies. It has been suggested that up to 18 out of every 100 premature birth could be linked to severe gum infection. This is a well recognized fact that babies who are born prematurely may be at an increased risk of developing a range of health conditions, be it cerebral palsy or hearing and visual deficits.

Gum Diseases – Signs And Symptoms:
Nearly 60-75% of pregnant women have gingivitis because the hormonal changes that occur due to pregnancy can make the gums more susceptible to plaque, which can trigger the initiation of inflammation and bleeding in gums, especially during tooth brushing and flossing, referred to as “Pregnancy Gingivitis” which is likely to occur during the first trimester.

What is Pregnancy Tumor?
If this condition is left untreated, it may result in Periodontal Diseases, which is the infection of the supporting structures of the teeth including gums, ligaments and bone. Furthermore, there may be an occasional occurrence of a red, round tissue overgrowth on the gums, referred to as “Pregnancy Epulis” or “Pyogenic Granuloma” or “Pregnancy Tumor”, which bleeds easily, can interfere with a woman’s ability to eat or care for her teeth and thereby, complicate the oral health considerably.

Tooth Decay And Morning Sickness:
Another major concern due to increased plaque deposits on teeth is the tooth decay, which occurs due to several reasons. The primary culprit being, the increased acidity in the mouth associated with the problem of morning sickness in the expectant mothers as it exposes the oral environment to more amount of gastric juices secreted by the stomach. The repeated reflux (regurgitation of food or drink) and associated vomiting can coat the tooth enamel with these strong gastric acids and destroy it.

Tooth Decay And High Sugar Intake:
The other common etiological factor of increased tooth decay is the unusual food cravings and snacking in-between the meals, particularly the sugary snacks. Also, women who have a lot of cavity-causing bacteria during pregnancy and after delivery can transmit these bacteria from their mouth to their baby’s mouth.

Home Oral Care Instructions:
Nevertheless, certain simple routine measures, if followed properly, can prove to be beneficial for both, the mother and the baby. Home oral care include brushing teeth thoroughly with fluoridated toothpaste twice daily; flossing between teeth once daily and mouth rinsing with an alcohol-free antimicrobial mouthwash; replacing the toothbrush every 2-3 months and using a soft bristle toothbrush; choosing a balanced diet plan rich in all the essential nutrients especially calcium, Vitamin B12 and C; significantly reducing the intake of high sugar content and snacking moderately only. Also, the consumption of tobacco products and alcohol must be avoided at all the times.

Why Should You Visit Your Dentist?
It is highly recommended to visit the dentist regularly for the routine check-ups as all pre-existing dental issues need to be resolved before planning for a child and if already pregnant, it is advised to inform the dentist about the pregnancy, it’s stage and other related information such as any special medical advice or medications received from the physician.

Professional Oral Health Care During Pregnancy
Undiagnosed or untreated periodontal diseases may worsen the condition and can lead to tooth loss. Hence, to avoid such unfavorable outcomes, it is crucial for the dentist to plan and execute the best possible oral health care. Preventive scaling or professional cleaning of the gums and teeth, cavity fillings and regular dental check-ups during pregnancy are not only safe but recommended.

Are Dental Procedures Safe During Pregnancy?
The benefits of receiving dental care during pregnancy far outweigh the potential risks. The safest time to undergo dental treatment is the second trimester of pregnancy. Sometimes, emergency dental procedures like tooth extraction/removal and root canal treatment can be performed following strict protocols. All elective dental procedures, such as teeth whitening, however, should be postponed until after the delivery.

With proper oral hygiene measures at home and professional help from your dentist, one can prevent any undue complications before, during and after the pregnancy.

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Author's Bio: 

Pregnancy is an incredible and beautiful time in any woman's life. Whether the pregnancy was long awaited or was a complete surprise, there is nothing quite like the anticipation and excitement of preparing to meet a new born baby.

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