Pregnancy brings with it a whole lot of body system changes and oral health is no exception. Some simple careful planning, however, can help avoid a lot of oral health complications associated with pregnancy. The hormonal changes during pregnancy have a direct effect on the oral health - higher incidence of decay, pregnancy gingivitis, and pregnancy tumors. Additionally, morning sickness affects the regular oral care, leading to more plaque and decay.
Before pregnancy: If you are planning to get pregnant, then a dental visit can help you get a thorough check-up ahead of the pregnancy. A routine cleaning and check for cavities should be sufficient to avoid any urgent treatment need during the period of pregnancy.
During pregnancy: If you were not able to do your pre-pregnancy dental visit, inform the dentists about pregnancy as early as possible. All elective procedures can be done after the delivery. Only really essential treatment that cannot wait until the delivery should be undertaken during pregnancy, most safe if done during the 4th to 6th months.
Listed below are some points to consider as far as oral/dental health is considered during pregnancy:
1. Scaling and polishing can be done as usual
2. Inform the dentist about all the medications that you are advised by your gynecologist
3. Periodic check-up once in 3 months to reduce severity of gum disease and decay
4. Good oral hygiene measures including brushing, flossing, and rinsing
5. Try a bland toothpaste if morning sickness is very severe
6. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Tooth formation happens in the third month and requires diet rich in calcium and minerals
7. Avoid sweet snacks which can lead to greater plaque formation
The hormone changes combined with oral infection (could be gum disease or tooth decay) can lead to severe effects on the developing baby. It is extremely important to avoid dental infections, as these may necessitate antibiotics, require x-rays, and even require treatment like root canal and/or extraction, all of which are best avoided until after the baby is delivered. It is considered safe for dental procedures to be done during the 4th to 6th month. Though now there are safer measures to do x-rays and dental procedures, they are best avoided, unless in case of emergency. This emergency situation can be avoided by better planning and some minimal care.
Severe gum disease could also lead to premature or low birth weight of the baby. So plaque buildup should be avoided which leads to both decay and gum disease.
After delivery: After the delivery of the baby, please visit your dentist to ensure you have again ensured there is no emergent dental condition requiring attention. Resume your regular dental care after delivery.