Pregnancy and Oral Health

Good oral health is vital all the time. This means caring for the teeth, gums and mouth. During pregnancy, whatever affects the mothers health can also affect her baby, and many women experience a change in their oral health during this time. A common sign of this change can be red, swollen and tender gums. An increased level of progesterone in a womans system causes an exaggerated response to plaque, this is called “Pregnancy Gingivitis” and is very common between the second and eight months of pregnancy.

“Pregnancy Gingivitis” has many of the same symptoms as traditional gingivitis, but the causes may be different. The main cause is the increased level of hormones, and the immune system works very differently during a womans pregnancy. “Pregnancy Gingivitis is a very serious disease, and if left untreated can cause low birth weight and even premature birth. Dentists always recommend more frequent cleanings during the second trimester to help avoid these problems.

During the second trimester of pregnancy, the patient may notice overgrowths of gum tissue (referred to as “pregnancy tumours”). They are said to be related to excess plaque and tend to be growths or swellings between the teeth. These growths tend to be quite red, have a mulberry-like surface, and they bleed very easily. Although they disappear before the baby is born, they may need to be surgically removed if they are causing discomfort when speaking or eating.

X-rays may be necessary for dental treatment or if there is a dental emergency. If there is an infection and it goes untreated, it can be harmful to the foetus. The radiation from a dental x-ray is extremely low, but for extra precaution a leaded apron and a leaded thyroid collar can be worn for protection.

A good diet is very important for healthy teeth and a healthy baby. A balanced diet will provide the necessary and needed nutrients to both baby and mother. Vitamins such as calcium, protein, phosphorus and vitamins A, C and D are all very important in keeping teeth and general health in good condition. Brushing twice daily, and flossing every day is also important in preventing tooth decay and any other dental diseases. Fluoride toothpastes will help to remove plaque.

It is usually recommended that no medicines are to be taken during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. However, if the benefits of taking the medicine outweigh the risks, the doctor or dentist will advise you on what precautions to take.