Oral health is something that has to be attended to throughout life. However, when a woman becomes pregnant, it is even more important than before. More and more evidence is emerging that links gum disease with underweight, premature births. This means that pregnant women who suffer from gum disease may be more likely to have babies who are born early and small.
While more research needs to be done to determine the effects of gum disease on pregnancy, right now it is suggested that this oral issue triggers increased levels of certain biological fluids that lead to the induction of labor. Research has also shown when gum disease becomes worse over the course of a pregnancy, there is a much higher chance of having the baby prematurely.
Steps to Ensure a Healthy Pregnancy
The very best advice women who are considering getting pregnant should follow is to visit their dentist for an evaluation and check-up. This should be done before getting pregnant. During the course of a pregnancy, it is also important to regularly floss and brush the teeth, eat a well-balanced diet and visit the dentist on a regular basis. This will help to reduce dental issues that often accompany pregnancy.
Common Oral Health Issues that May Develop During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, teeth, gums and your mouth, in general, may become more susceptible to certain diseases or issues. Some include:
- Pregnancy gingivitis
Many pregnant women experience issues with gingivitis. This is when plaque accumulates on the teeth and causes gum irritation. Symptoms of gingivitis including inflamed, red and bleeding gums. Referred to as pregnancy gingivitis, this occurs more often during this 9- month period because the increased hormone levels exaggerate the way gums react to irritants contained in plaque. However, it is important to note, plaque is still the main cause of gingivitis, not hormones.
The best way to battle this issue is by keeping the teeth clean, especially close to the gum line. Doing this will help to significantly reduce the chances of developing pregnancy gingivitis. Also, substituting sweets with foods that are more wholesome, such as vegetables, fruits and cheese will be better for your teeth, not to mention your baby.
- Enamel Erosion
This issue often arises in pregnant women who experience vomiting due to morning sickness. If a person vomits frequently, it can lead to teeth erosion. If you do experience morning sickness, it is important not to brush the teeth directly after getting sick. Vomit is extremely acidic and can leave the enamel of the teeth susceptible to damage, even if you brush gently. Instead, rinse your mouth out with cool water and brush about 20 to 30 minutes later.
- Dry Mouth
Being pregnant can also cause dry mouth. When this occurs, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help wash away bacteria that may be developing in the mouth. This will help replace the saliva that is not there.
It is very important to keep up with good oral hygiene habits while you are pregnant. This includes brushing twice a day for at least two minutes, flossing each day and using an antimicrobial mouthwash. Be sure to also see the dentist regularly to ensure no other issues have developed.