Pregnancy is a very complex time in a woman’s life. The changes her body undergoes are numerous and she may find it difficult to keep up with them. One such change is that she becomes more susceptible to gum disease. She may develop “pregnancy tumors”, non-cancerous lumps that appear in the mouth, but disappear after the baby is born. Oral health for pregnant women becomes even more important for several reasons.
Oral health care is a significant part of a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women are more likely to develop gingivitis or gum disease. If left untreated, this can progress to an even more serious condition known as periodontal disease. Therefore, oral health care goes beyond brushing and flossing at home and involves the very important appointments she will need to have with her dental hygienist. Oral health care that is provided by a dental hygienist includes prophylaxis, scaling, radiographs, local anesthesia and radiographs, which are usually safe procedures during pregnancy.
It is usually a difficult feat for pregnant women to maintain good oral health because they sometimes suffer from nausea and vomiting. These symptoms present a discomfort when they attempt brushing and/or flossing, therefore oral health care may be neglected. As difficult as it might be for a pregnant woman to brush her teeth while feeling nauseous, she must be encouraged to find ways to keep her mouth clean. One such way might be to change her toothpaste to one that is less flavored. Another option she might consider is choosing to brush and floss when her symptoms are less severe.
While brushing the tongue is significant to preventing halitosis (bad breath), the activity might result in gagging, which is a nuisance for a pregnant woman who is already experiencing nausea. An alternative method is using a tongue cleaner which might be less irritating than an actual toothbrush.
The challenge to ensure that pregnant women maintain good oral health would be lessened had the effort been a concerted one among all the providers that attend to her during antenatal care. A lot of obstetricians and gynecologists (OB-GYNs) do not educate their patients about oral health nor do they check to find out if they are taking care of that aspect of their overall health. Oral health is a very important aspect of a pregnant woman’s overall health because untreated oral diseases can be harmful to her and her unborn infant. Additionally, studies have shown where bacteria pass from the mother to the unborn infant, making the infant prone to dental caries at a very young age.
Oral health care is very important during pregnancy because of the increased risk of developing gum disease and the likelihood that brushing and flossing might be ignored. It is important to educate women about the need to maintain their oral health as it plays an important role in their overall health during pregnancy and also the oral health of their children.
If you are pregnant and is found to have gingivitis, try getting an oral irrigator, which uses pulsating water jets to remove the plaque around your gums, preventing it from developing into more serious gum diseases.