February 7, 2013

Dental Issues Relevant to Pregnancy

Carrying a precious life is generally considered one of the greatest experiences a woman can have during her lifetime.  However, according to Dr. Ryne Johnson, Prosthodontist at Newton Wellesley Dental Partners, it also produces challenges that will impact one’s dental health.  Understanding the dental implications of a pregnancy can assist in being pro-active and avoiding significant problems after delivery.

Keeping Your Oral Health On Top Of Your Mind

As you already know, your lifestyle and habits during pregnancy can affect your health as well as the health of your unborn baby. With all the things you need to be prepared for, your oral health may not exactly be top-of-mind. But maintaining the healthy teeth and gums is necessary to avoid the risk of developing pregnancy gingivitis and to establish good oral health long-term.

Postpone Dental Care During Your First Trimester

The first trimester of your pregnancy (the first 13 weeks) is the time in which most of the baby’s major organs develop. If you go to the dentist during your first trimester, tell your dentist that you’re pregnant and have only a checkup and routine cleaning. If possible, postpone any major dental work until after the first trimester. However, if you have a dental emergency, don’t wait! Infections in the mouth can be harmful to you and your baby. See your dentist immediately, and make sure that all dental professionals who examine you are aware you’re pregnant.

Know About Your Increased Risk of Gingivitis

During pregnancy, 50 to 70% of all women experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. This is why it's vital to pay more careful attention to your daily brushing and flossing routine to keep plaque under control. Here’s how:
  • Use a rechargeable electric toothbrush. Many remove more plaque than regular manual toothbrushes, and by investing in one, you can begin to take the steps to reduce the amount of plaque in your mouth and help prevent and reverse gingivitis.
  • Brush with an anti-gingivitis toothpaste. Be sure to read packaging carefully to make sure the toothpaste contains gingivitis-fighting ingredients.
  • Floss regularly. Even if gingivitis causes your gums to swell and bleed, but you still need to floss. By flossing daily, you can eliminate more plaque than brushing alone and help reduce your risk of developing pregnancy gingivitis.
  • Rinse with anti-gingivitis mouthwash. Rinsing with an alcohol-free, anti-gingivitis mouthwash is the final step to killing germs and improving your oral hygiene during pregnancy.
Take About 1200mg of Calcium Daily

Your teeth are made of minerals similar to bone, and the calcium you take in aids in bone development in your baby. The right amount of calcium will help keep your bones strong and contribute to the development of strong teeth and bones in your baby.

Learn About the Medications You're Taking

Some antibiotics and pain medications are okay to take during pregnancy and may be necessary. However, one group of antibiotics, tetracycline and related antibiotics may cause hypoplasia (underdevelopment) of tooth enamel and/or discoloration of the permanent teeth in children. Be sure to tell your doctor you’re pregnant if he or she prescribes this medication for you.

Be Prepared for Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting that often occurs during pregnancy. It can happen at any time of day. If you suffer from morning sickness, having your own emergency travel bag is a good plan. In a small, sturdy bag, pack the following:
  • Opaque plastic bags without holes (Plastic grocery bags are a good choice)
  • Wet wipes, tissues or napkins to wipe your face and mouth
  • A small bottle of water to rinse your teeth and mouth
  • A travel-sized mouthwash, toothpaste and toothbrush to brush away stomach acids
  • Breath spray or mints
Deal with Changes in Your Mouth

During pregnancy, you may experience symptoms of dysgeusia (changing tastebuds or a bad taste in your mouth) or ptyalism (too much saliva).  To help cope with a bad taste in your mouth:
  • Brush often, and gargle with a mixture of baking soda and water (1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in one cup of water) to help neutralize pH levels
  • Add lemon to water, drink lemonade or suck on citrus drops
  • Use plastic dinnerware and utensils to help decrease  metallic taste
To help cope with an increase in saliva, drink plenty of fluid to increase swallowing. Sucking on SUGAR-FREE candies may also offer relief.

Ask a Professional Before Using Fluoride

While many prenatal vitamins contain fluoride, the value of fluoride and fluoride supplementation in pregnant women is unclear, and not everyone agrees on it. Be sure to consult your doctor if you're curious about it.

Speak with your OB/GYN regarding these issues and for additional information, visit www.NewtonWellesleyDentalPartners.org and remember to, “See a specialist…The difference will make you smile”.