Like all aspects of health during pregnancy, dental health is extremely important, not only to the overall health of the mother, but it’s also vitally important in ensuring the health of the unborn child. Let’s take a look at some of the specifics of the importance of good dental care during pregnancy.
An Interesting Study
Statistics have shown that due to lack of awareness and high costs, only a third of Australian women consult a dentist during pregnancy. Accordingly, a group of midwives took up an intervention study in South-Western Sydney to test the value of pre-natal dental education. In this 2013 study, women who received no interventions were compared with women who received midwifery interventions as well as dental interventions.
It was found that the women who were educated in dental care were 50% more likely to take up dental services. In addition, quality of life was improved dramatically for the women who engaged in increased dental care, indicating the effectiveness of an educational program that promoted oral health and wellbeing among pregnant women.
Dental Risks During Pregnancy
Women are more likely to develop gingivitis during pregnancy. Gums can become swollen and tender, and may even bleed a little while brushing teeth or flossing. Sometimes, little benign growths known as “pregnancy tumours” can develop along the gumlines and between teeth. Although not harmful, they can be bothersome, and usually go away after the birth of the baby.
Unfortunately, if not treated properly, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis and tooth loss. It’s important to have this condition treated when it is mild, so it does not worsen and lead to further problems.
Periodontal disease has been linked to several major problems related to pregnancy, including an increased risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight, miscarriages and preeclampsia. These types of problems happen with more frequency among people who have limited access to dental care. Clearly the situation requires a combination of increased education as well as access to quality healthcare.
Pregnant women should always alert their doctors that they are pregnant, particularly when seeking treatment for other conditions. There are certain medications that are not recommended during pregnancy, and your doctor needs to know that he or she can’t prescribe them.
When seeking dental care, it’s also vital that you let your dentist know that you are pregnant. X-rays should never be given to pregnant women, as they can damage the growing fetus inside her. When you tell your dental team that you are pregnant, they will outfit you with a lead apron designed to block the dangerous x-rays from getting anywhere near your abdominal area.
Eating During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, most women increase their amount of snacking between meals. Particularly during the first trimester, when she is more apt to be experiencing the nausea characteristic of morning sickness, a pregnant woman is likely to be nibbling on small items like crackers, bread and other snacks throughout the day. It’s important to make sure that oral health doesn’t suffer with the addition of so much between meal snacking.
Don’t Forget the Basics
If you are pregnant, don’t forget that oral health is still a priority. You may be feeling distracted or even overwhelmed by all of the changes your body is undergoing as it adjusts to the growing life inside it. One of the ways to maintain your balance during this transformative time is to make sure to take care of the basics like eating well, engaging in light exercise, getting plenty of rest and relaxation, and yes, taking care of your teeth. Trust us, you’ll have your hands full with a whole new set of concerns pretty soon. Don’t add unnecessary dental problems to the list!