Pregnancy Teeth & Gums Care
Pregnancy is a period where utmost care should be given so that the baby develops a healthy Body and healthy oral cavity. The initial development of the child’s teeth and oral structures occurs in the womb of a mother. Some common questions that pregnant mothers and females planning to get pregnant ask are answered below:
Do I need dental advice prior to becoming pregnant?
- Undergo a dental and medical checkup prior to getting pregnant.
- If your dentist advises further dental treatment, it should be completed.
- Understand the changes which could be anticipated in the oral cavity during pregnancy from your dentist.
What dental care is required during pregnancy?
- Undergo a dental check-up once in 6 months. Brush your teeth using a fluoridated tooth paste twice a day. Floss your teeth at least once a day.
- Brush your teeth only after half an hour of an episode of vomiting as immediate brushing will remove the enamel which has been softened by the gastric acids.
- If tooth-brushing causes morning sickness, then the oral cavity should be rinsed with water and fluoride / chlorhexidine mouth rinses.
- Change your tooth brush once in 3 months.
- Consume foods high in protein, calcium, phosphorous and vitamins A, C and D for the development of strong teeth in your baby.
- Avoid consuming sweets, pastries, carbonated beverages and junk food.
- Consume green leafy vegetables and fruits for a healthy baby.
- Take vitamin supplements, including folic acid to reduce the risk of birth defects such as cleft lip and palate on the advice of your gynaecologist.
- Do not consume alcohol during pregnancy.
- Do not smoke during pregnancy.
- Dental care, if required, can be done safely in the second trimester of pregnancy. Avoid dental x-rays during pregnancy. Elective dental treatment should be deferred after pregnancy.
Gum Disease (Pregnancy Gingivitis)
It occurs usually during the first trimester of pregnancy. Gingival enlargement, which is an overgrowth or an increase in the size of gums, occurs less frequently than gingivitis and pregnancy tumours.In severe cases, the gums can grow to cover the teeth completely.
If proper oral hygiene is not initiated prior to or during pregnancy, conditions such as gingivitis, Pregnancy tumours and gingival enlargement can worsen as the pregnancy progresses. The primary changes are due to a surge in hormones, particularly an increase in oestrogen and progesterone, which can exaggerate the way tissues react to plaque.
Gingivitis in pregnant mothers can result in preterm and low birth babies. Pregnant women should maintain their regular, semi-annual check-ups and consult a dentist if they notice any changes in their oral health.
Regular tooth brushing twice daily, flossing once daily, eating a balanced diet and visiting the dentist regularly will help reduce dental problems that accompany pregnancy.
For some women, morning sickness is a major symptom of pregnancy.Along with the nausea come additional acid that, if left in the mouth, can erode teeth.
Be sure to rinse your mouth out with water or with a fluoride mouthwash to keep the acid level under control. Tooth brushing should be done only after half an hour of an episode of vomiting as the enamel of the teeth would have been softened by the gastric acids.
The presence of plaque can make the teeth vulnerable to decay. Use fluoridated tooth pastes to brush teeth twice daily. Consume anti-cariogenic foods like cheese, fruits and vegetables.
Pregnancy dry mouth can put women at a great risk for problems such as tooth decay, bad breath and infections. Drink plenty of water stay hydrated and chew sugarless gum to enhance production of saliva.
Tooth mobility increases as pregnancy advances.
Proper oral hygiene measures should be done to prevent periodontitis.
Oral Health Care for Babies
Wipe the teeth and gum pads of your baby with a sterile gauze/cloth after breast/bottle feeding.
Do not feed your baby with juices or milk using feeding bottle during sleep.
Parent supervised tooth-brushing should be shown tooth-brushing procedure in front of a Mirror for easy learning. Children younger than 2 years should use a smear of fluoride toothpaste on the brush, children between 2 to 6 years should use pea sized fluoride toothpaste and children older than 6 years should use toothpaste covering the full length of the bristles of the toothbrush.
Child should be weaned after 12 months. The child can be fed juices and water in cups. Mothers should check the teeth of their child by lifting the lips for any brown/black spots on the teeth.
The first visit to the dentist for the baby should be at the time eruption of the first tooth or not later than the first birthday of the child.
Dental problems in the child should be treated at the earliest by a dentist.
Both parents should constantly motivate their child to adopt healthy oral hygiene practices at the early stages of life itself. Oral hygiene practices developed by the child at an early phase of life will last long.