This month I’ve got another guest blog for you – Dr Amanda Tavoularis has written a post on oral health during pregnancy, and why it’s important not to neglect this area of your body!
Dr. Amanda Tavoularis (dentably.com)
When you become pregnant, it can be a very special time as your body changes and prepares to bring a new life into the world. While it’s important that you remain as healthy as possible for yourself and for your baby, many women can develop inflammation of their gums, or gingivitis during their pregnancy. This is often referred to as pregnancy gingivitis and happens because of the changes in hormone levels.
Gum disease can result in premature births, so it’s important to be aware of this disease and take care of your gums to help prevent this disease. In a study conducted in the postnatal ward at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, most women were aware of dental disease, but over 80% of women surveyed were not aware of periodontal disease!
I have been practicing dentistry for nearly 20 years and have worked with women on prioritizing their dental health during pregnancy so they can carry their baby to term. Oral health issues can worsen quickly, especially if women are unaware so, it’s important to take proper measures in preventing and treating them for the safety of you and your baby.
1. Dental Visits Are Vital for Gum Health
It’s important to continue regularly visiting your dentist during pregnancy to try and prevent gum disease. Professional dental cleanings are more important during your pregnancy and are essential to preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Your dentist can also evaluate your periodontal health so you both can work together to decrease the chance of adverse pregnancy complications. Let your dentist know that you are expecting, and they will be able to accommodate to your needs.
2. Seek Treatment Immediately
If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease or believe that you may have it, it’s important to seek treatment quickly to prevent potential preterm labour. Research has shown that there is an association between gum disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight and premature births. According to the Australian Dental Journal, a recent study found that, “Women with prenatal loss due to extreme prematurity were more than four times as likely to have periodontal disease, compared to women with full term, live born infant.”
The cause is most likely because the bacteria from gum disease can attack the ligaments, gums, and bones surrounding your teeth to create infected pockets similar to large infected wounds in the oral cavity. These pockets can provide access to your bloodstream and allow bacteria to travel throughout your body, down to the uterus and placenta.
Visiting your regular dentist is the best way to treat your gingivitis or gum disease. Most doctors recommend waiting until your second trimester before receiving dental procedures. Your dentist will give you a deep cleaning to get rid of plaque and build-up that’s contributing to the disease. If your gum disease is severe your dentist or doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help combat the infection. Your doctor will know which medications are safe for you during your pregnancy but be sure to let them know of any allergies that you have.
3. Maintain a Healthy Dental Care Routine
Finally, be sure to continue an effective dental care routine during your pregnancy to help prevent gum disease and gingivitis. Good dental hygiene consists of brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using an antimicrobial mouth rinse. Another great way to keep your mouth healthy during this special time is to avoid sugary foods. Excessively eating foods high in sugar can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, so try incorporating more vegetables, lean proteins, and nuts and seeds into your diet to help prevent any disease.
It’s important that you take precautionary measures to make sure your mouth is as healthy as possible for you and your baby because premature births are more common in mothers with poor dental health. Regular dental visits, seeking treatment, and continuing a good dental care routine the best ways to help prevent gum disease. Remember to enjoy this time in your life and embrace the changes happening to your body.