Dental care for pregnant women 

Pregnant women suffering from morning sickness are often advised to snack or consume multiple meals a day, which again poses a challenge to prevent dental decay.
Representative Image
Representative Image

Pregnancy and oral health are very closely connected; pregnancy alters oral health and an altered oral health can affect pregnancy. Almost 70 per cent of women have nausea or vomiting during the first trimester of their pregnancy, which can cause erosion of enamel due to the regurgitation of gastric acids into the mouth. A sodium bicarbonate rinse can help reduce these effects. However, one shouldn’t brush teeth immediately after nausea. It can further cause demineralisation of teeth. Regular use of fluoridated toothpaste or topical fluoride application is also recommended.

Pregnant women suffering from morning sickness are often advised to snack or consume multiple meals a day, which again poses a challenge to prevent dental decay. Brushing twice a day and rinsing the oral cavity after every meal would reduce the risk of dental decay. A small population of pregnant women also complain of dryness of mouth, for which increasing water consumption and chewing of sugarless gum is recommended.  

Signs of gum diseases (redness, bleeding, swelling, tederness) become evident from the second trimester and generally peak around the eighth month of pregnancy.

This is mainly due to hormonal changes. Occasionally, some pregnant women will develop a localised swelling on the gum, known as pregnancy granuloma. They are harmless red swellings on the gum that often bleed easily. They generally become smaller or disappear after childbirth. Removal of the gum growth would be necessary only in certain situations.

Pregnancy periodontitis, when gum disease progresses into destructive inflammation, affects 30 per cent of women during pregnancy. There has been a proven link between periodontitis and adverse pregnancy outcomes such as pre-eclampsia, premature birth and low birth weight.

Neglecting oral and dental health during pregnancy not only causes problems such as tooth decay and tooth loss but may also lead to problems such as premature birth, low birth weight in infants and pre-eclampsia. Dental treatments during pregnancy are safe. The best time for treatment is between the 14th and 20th weeks.  Treatment options may include diagnostic X-rays, dental prophylaxis, periodontal treatment, and restorations with the administration of local anaesthetics containing epinephrine.

Dental restorations during pregnancy are mostly safe. Antibiotics and analgesics for treating infection and controlling pain may be administered. Acute conditions, such as pain and swelling, should be treated as soon as possible.

Also, mother’s oral health will significantly and positively affect the infant’s oral health.

The writer is an associate consultant (pediatric and preventive dentistry) at Apollo Adlux Hospital, Angamaly, Ernakulam

Keep in mind

  • Gum diseases can be treated safely during the second trimester 

  • Cut down on sugar and have fresh fruits and vegetables

  • It is generally safe to use common painkillers. But consult a gynaecologist.

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