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Dental Health and Dental Problems During Pregnancy
By: Güzin Kırsaçlıoğlu, Md.
We all wish to enjoy our pregnancy periods. We all hope to give birth to healthy babies after pregnancy. The field to which women pay the most attention during pregnancy is nutrition. The attention paid for nutrition is for the good of their children, through better bone structures or higher quotients of intelligence. Yet, isn’t nutrition also important for oral and dental health?
The buds of baby teeth and permanent teeth form inside your baby’s jaw while you are pregnant. Having a high mineral intake will strengthen the dental structure of your baby. Calcium, phosphor, potassium and vitamins, elements that we always need, are needed even more during pregnancy. You have to mind what you eat if you wish to straighten the dental buds of your babies and the final three-month period of pregnancy is especially important.
Common thoughts: “I had many episodes of nausea, I could not feed the baby. The baby received the calcium through my teeth, is this right?” Nausea occurs during the first three months. In this period, the baby does not need the calcium from their mother.
In addition, there is also the thought of “Every pregnancy cost me a tooth!” The changing hormone structure affects your gums during pregnancy, making them more vulnerable to infections. An existing dental problem becomes more severe during pregnancy. Hence, you have to get your teeth examined by a dentist, then receiving the treatments you require.
Bleeding gums are more frequent during pregnancy, especially for mothers with gum problems. The expecting mother with bleeding gums avoids brushing her teeth, shortening the time and the amount of brushing. If she also has nausea, her gums become even more vulnerable to infections. As a result of this, dental problems that root from gums become inevitable. In other words, pregnancy is not the main cause behind lost teeth. The changing hormonal structure renders your teeth vulnerable.
The increasing number of tooth decays also contributes to nausea during pregnancy. As you may know, your stomach acid is HYDROCHLORIC acid. This acid plays a role in digesting what you eat, but causes destruction when drawn into your mouth through nausea. You need to brush your teeth especially after morning nausea. And if it is impossible to brush your teeth, rinsing with water may help.
Sometimes, brushing teeth causes nausea. In this case, brushing with our heads tilted down and using a toothbrush with a small tip may be effective in eliminating nausea. If the taste or the odor of your toothpaste causes the nausea, I suggest you use toothpastes for kids. Kiddie toothpastes taste like candies. As stomach acid may cause the progression of new or existing decays, these decays should be assessed and filled by a dentist before pregnancy. Actually, even before deciding on a pregnancy, you should visit your dentist for a general assessment.
The assessment should be supported by X-rays (the X-rays that show all of your teeth, called a Panoramic X-Ray). As the pregnancy period is a long one and x-rays become impossible due to the risk of radiation, the early x-ray assessments will help in the event of a problem.
Many people brush their teeth and even if they do, there are some who keep suffering from problems related to gums and teeth. The underlying cause of these is the lack of information on correct oral care, or the failure to ensure that. If you do not know how to brush or floss efficiently, you should learn and start following the rules immediately. A thorough oral care is possible through brushing your teeth effectively and flossing. Brushing your cheeks and tongue is also important.
Fluoride applications during pregnancy are considered to be preventive measures in some countries. Though, in Turkey, the tap water is not audited properly and the decision is left to the expecting woman and her gynecologist. In the regions where the tap water is too rich in fluoride, there will be yellow or brown dental stains, called flourosis.
Medication used during pregnancy may have negative impacts on teeth, as well. Especially medication of the tetracycline group stains on teeth. The cause of yellow and brownish stains on teeth, called hypoplasia, is the medication taken and the inflammatory diseases suffered during pregnancy. This is why you need to increase your immune resistance and try to avoid both contracting diseases and using medication.
Dental problems that occur during pregnancy are treatable. In general, the issue is whether or not to remove a tooth. A tooth may be removed with the correct anesthetics. Although antibiotics are not our preference, they are used, as well, because a tooth with inflammation hurts a baby more than them.
Another point to take into consideration is the fear of doctors on the part of an expecting woman, or the lack thereof. In patients with such fears, the adrenaline raised by fear during a treatment may have negative results. As there is a risk of losing the baby in the first three months, and of having an early birth in the last three, any fear an expecting woman may have should be eliminated through suggestions. Among patients that are simply too afraid, for those who make up excuses to delay their treatment, just eliminating the emergency and postponing the treatment until after their pregnancy, would suffice.
Among the treatments that are to be delayed until after the pregnancy are those requiring x-rays. For instance, in treatments like root canal treatments, the initial session is completed by eliminating pain and through temporary restorations, while the actual completion is delayed until after the pregnancy.
It should be remembered that pregnancy is not a pathologic condition, but a physiologic one. The woman whose hormones turn back to normal keep on with their normal lives. Take care.