Simple tips that can prevent oral health problems during pregnancy
Once your pregnancy is confirmed, you need to start planning for a lot of things. You have to prepare to look after yourself and your baby in the womb, all the time. You have to make sure that you are getting all the essential nutrients from different foods, managing all the appointments with your doctor, and going about your daily routine efficiently, while the hormones play havoc on your body. While you are busy managing all of these, oral health can often take a backseat.
Maintaining good oral health is a routine activity but you have to understand that you are more prone to oral problems during pregnancy. You have to take extra care to keep your teeth and gums healthy during this critical period. Gingivitis is a condition that bothers pregnant women very commonly. So, you should know how to prevent it or manage it to avoid any further complications. Being aware of which foods to eat for oral health during pregnancy, is also crucial.
Why are oral health issues more common during pregnancy?
Progesterone is a very important hormone that manages several functions during pregnancy. It continues to be high throughout this period. High levels of progesterone make you more susceptible to oral problems. This leads to an increase in bacterial growth that attacks the gums and causes gingivitis. You might notice blood while brushing, along with pain and swelling of gums. Other symptoms of gingivitis include the following:
- Your gums might be swollen
- The gums might be tender and puffy
- Gums might be bleeding
- Gums might recede, exposing the bottom part of your teeth
- Your gums might be noticeably red
- You might also have bad breath
You might notice gingivitis when you are around 2 to 8 months into the pregnancy. Along with gingivitis, you might be prone to loosened tooth and tooth decay too.
Why is it important to manage oral health during pregnancy?
Oral problems can have serious consequences in pregnant women. The advanced stage of gum disease is called periodontitis, which can spread down the bone and affect the baby in the womb. It might cause preterm birth or your baby might be born with low birth weight. You might also lose a tooth because of the delay in treatment.
How to avoid oral health problems?
Hormonal imbalance during pregnancy is inevitable. Your body has to go through the process. However, you can take certain measures to prevent oral health problems during pregnancy.
Follow good oral hygiene
You should follow a proper dental hygiene routine every day, by brushing in the morning and before going to sleep. You can also use fluoride toothpaste, which has additional benefits to strengthen your teeth. Hard bristles can irritate gums which are already sensitive, so you should use a soft brush instead. You should replace your brush regularly too, or at least once every 3 to 4 months. You should also not share your brush with anyone. Remember to floss regularly to remove the accumulation of food particles in the spaces in between the teeth. You can rinse your teeth with an alcohol-free mouth rinse before going to sleep.
During early pregnancy, you might suffer from severe nausea, which can cause frequent vomiting. You should rinse your mouth thoroughly in such cases, to avoid the harmful effects of the stomach acids on the teeth.
Eat these foods to improve oral health
A balanced diet will not only help you to maintain overall health, but will also help maintain good oral health. Here are some foods that you should include in your diet:
- Whole grains
- Milk and other dairy products like cheese or unsweetened yoghurt
Drink water regularly to keep yourself hydrated.
Avoid foods that cause oral health problems
Besides following a good diet, you should avoid eating candies, chocolates, or dried foods that are high in sugars and starch. The sugar component in these foods provides a rich medium for bacteria to flourish in the mouth. Eventually, they start attacking the gums. Also, avoid consuming carbonated beverages, fruit-flavoured drinks, or sweetened drinks, and replace them with normal water or healthy drinks.
Gargle with saltwater
Saltwater gargle can help manager early signs of gingivitis, like inflammation of the gums or bleeding. Add a teaspoon of sea salt to a cup of warm water and gargle with it a few times before spitting it out. It is harmless if you swallow some of it while doing this.
Schedule regular appointment with a dentist
Visiting a dentist at least twice a year can be very helpful. Your dentist can guide you appropriately if there is any issue with your gums or if there are cavities. These appointments will help you to prevent serious oral health problems. Now, you might be wondering about what to discuss with the dentist at your next appointment. You can discuss the following:
- Inform about any recent changes in your gums
- Inform the dentist if you found blood while brushing
- Inform the dentist if you found any tumours on your gums
- If you are sensitive or allergic to any medication, you should mention it
- Discuss all the medications you are on, including vitamins and minerals, to avoid drug interactions
- Inform the dentist that you are pregnant. It is important, as you may need to get an X-ray. Though it is harmless, if you have any concerns, your dentist can resolve the same.
Treatment of Oral Problems
If you are already affected by oral health problems, your dentist will recommend a treatment regime that may include antibiotics and painkillers. Along with the treatment, your dentist might recommend certain simple measures like mouthwashes to keep the infection and inflammation in check. Surgery may be necessary in some advanced cases, and your doctor will discuss the appropriate course of action that will be healthy for you and your child.
Oral health problems can be prevented with proper care. Regular visits to the dentist can help you track any oral health problem and initiate treatment before it gets late. By following simple oral hygiene practices, you can prevent major complications.