Pregnancy is a strange time for your body. There are many changes going on in micro- and macro-levels in your body that increase the risk of developing oral health problems like gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (gum disease). According to researchers, almost 60% of pregnant women contract gingivitis during these nine months.
Hormones rage throughout your body, changing the way your body responds to different stimulus and pathogens. Sometimes, these changes lead to increased tendency of contracting tooth and gum problems. So it is not uncommon for women, who had previously not suffered from periodontal diseases, to suddenly have swollen and bleeding gums, aching or sensitive teeth.
Dental Problems and Dental Care during Pregnancy
When plaque accumulates between the teeth, they become perfect warm, moist breeding ground for bacteria. These bacteria lead to inflammation, i.e., accumulation of fluid and bleeding in the gums. Unless it is treated, it may lead to tooth decay and abscess. Plaque formation in the mouth may be increased due to the change in hormone levels. Increased plaque can lead to gingivitis, swelling and bleeding of gums, soreness in the gums.
The second month of pregnancy is when the initial symptoms of gingivitis start showing, maximizing it up to the eight months.
Tips to Prevent Pregnancy Gingivitis
To avoid gingivitis, you have to brush your teeth daily and spend at least two minutes. It is advisable to use fluoride toothpaste, but ask your ob-gyn whether it is safe to do so.
- Floss daily and visit your dentist regularly. If the plaque problem is aggravated, you may receive scaling after the fourth month because by this time, the fetus is stable. However, before any such procedure, your doctors should okay it. It is recommended to give dental treatments a miss in the first and third trimester because it may affect the fetus and its growth and development. If it is urgent, dental treatments can be done in the second trimester. Secondly, you must tell your dentist about all the medication and supplements you are taking because your dentist may alter your dental routine based on these.
- Throughout the pregnancy period, do not skip on appointments with the dentist and be aware of the common tooth problems that develop during pregnancy.
Sensitive tooth during Pregnancy
If the protective layer of your teeth called enamel is stripped away, the nerves in your teeth become exposed. At this stage, whenever the enamel stripped tooth comes in contact with hot or cold food or drink, a shivering sensation is felt in the gums and tooth. This is called sensitive tooth.
The enamel of the teeth is usually stripped away by the acidic chemicals released by bacteria residing in plaque. During pregnancy, women often feel sick in the morning and vomiting results in further contact with acids. On top of that, every pregnant gets food cravings and often these cravings are of sugary, sweet foods that leave sugar residue in the teeth. The residue increases growth of bacteria, which again can further sensitize teeth.
Tips to Prevent Pregnancy Sensitive tooth
- To prevent sensitive tooth, again, regular brushing and thorough flossing is needed. You should also not indulge in too many sweets or sour food. If you feel sensitivity in your teeth, consult your dentist for further treatment.
- Use an antiseptic mouth rinse between meals.
- Clean, well after eating soft, starchy food that can stick between teeth, like bread and potatoes.
- Instead of cough drops, which are full of sugar, try cloves to cure sore throat.
- Instead of drinking fruit juice from the carton, eat fruits or make your own juice as the purchased variety is loaded with sugar.
Tooth decay during Pregnancy
Tooth decay is the result of negligence because decay occurs at a much later stage than gingivitis and sensitive tooth. If you have tooth sensitivity, it is an indication of compromised tooth strength. So bacteria in plaque will easily strip down even more enamel and make a home for itself. This will result in tooth decay. If you get toothaches, especially at night, it is a sign of tooth decay because at night our blow flow changes, which triggers release of toothache causing toxins.
Some foods cause plaque and should be strictly avoided during Preganancy. Check the list below:
- Sugary foods- During pregnancy, women often crave sugary snacks like candies, chocolates (chocolate itself isn’t sugary, but unless you eat the very dark kind, it’s loaded with milk and sugar), marshmallows and so on. Even eating decadent desserts after meals can do much harm. So if you crave something sweet, eat a dessert of shaved ice and fruits.
- Snacks- Most snacks like chips and all sorts of crisps increase plaque formation. You can make some homemade, healthy snacks, though. Make a hummus dip of your own and eat baby vegetables with it. Berries, nuts and fruits are all healthy snacks that do not aggravate plaque problem.
- Soft drinks- If you feel thirsty, refrain from chugging down a can of carbonated drink because it contains an insane amount of sugar as well as citric and phosphoric acids, which chips away the teeth’s enamel
Tips to Prevent Tooth Decay during Pregnancy
- To prevent tooth decay, you should brush before breakfast and before going to bed, without fail. Flossing cannot be skipped either and must be done at least once a day. This may be the time to switch to a soft bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste.
- If you have morning sickness, don’t brush your teeth immediately after vomiting as the acids may have softened and corroded the enamel- you don’t want to aggravate it by rubbing a brush on it. Simply take a blob of desensitizing toothpaste and rub it on your teeth with your finger. Rinse this with water. The same rule applies for citric juices. Do not brush immediately after drinking orange or lemon juice.
There are some foods that prevent tooth decay while some aggravate the plaque problem. Foods that fight plaque:
Fibrous fruits and vegetables– These foods help in increasing saliva, which protects your mouth. Saliva contains calcium and phosphate, which restore mineral to the teeth, which are stripped by acid and enzymes present in food.
Dairy products– These are chock full of calcium and phosphates themselves and cheese and yogurt also get saliva in your mouth flowing. Naturally, they are good teeth protectors.
Foods with fluoride– Although it is scary to have fluorine in your water, it actually protects your teeth. Dehydrated soups, powder juices and poultry, seafood also provide us with fluoride.
Chewing gum– Chewing on a piece of sugarless gum will increase saliva secretion in your mouth. However, make sure it is sugarless, or else it will only aggravate tooth problems.
Tea– Tea contains polyphenols which kill plaque forming bacteria. So the acid produced by these bacteria does not have their usual devastating effects.
Drink water– If you drink water, your mouth is automatically rinsed and plaque bacteria activity is held back. Drink fluorinated water for best results.
Effect of Dental Problems on Baby during Pregnancy
You may not be that concerned about a bleeding gum or a painful tooth, but for your unborn child’s sake, do take caution. It has been found through research that there is a link between periodontal diseases during pregnancy and premature birth with low weight. Premature babies are under the risk of a number of health conditions like eyesight and hearing loss or impairment and even cerebral palsy. In fact, it is estimated that around 18 out of 100 premature births are triggered by periodontal disease.
Tooth Problem During Pregnancy : Myth
There is some misconception regarding teeth problems and pregnancy. For example, an often repeated myth that if the expectant mother is not consuming enough calcium, her teeth will be compromised to supply the difference to the developing fetus. This is wrong because calcium may leach from bones, not teeth and even that damage is repaired after breastfeeding is stopped.