When you gain a child, you lose a tooth! Oral hygiene during pregnancy

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

Pregnancy is a condition when the hormones in the woman’s body are having a free run. This tends to create several problems, some of them affecting the teeth.

Morning sickness is a very common complaint of expectant mothers. The stomach too is very sensitive and at most times is not able to retain the food eaten, leading to vomiting. The acid levels in the vomit corrode the protective enamel of your teeth, thus making the teeth fragile and easily breakable.

Pregnancy brings out hidden gum problems, problems that may have existed before and not been paid attention to. Gingivitis or inflammation of the gums is the most common dental problem seen in pregnancy. Brushing your teeth can be a painful task here as even the slightest touch of the brush leads to bleeding from the swollen gums. This condition is usually seen in the second trimester.

Eighteen out of every hundred prematurely born babies are the result of the mother having some gum problems in her pregnancy. Good oral care can cut this risk up to 80%!
Since this condition is exacerbated due to the hormone fluctuations it usually resolves after the end of pregnancy. At times the condition may be severe, called as Pregnancy Epulis. This doesn’t resolve even after the end of term.

Oral hygiene during pregnancy is essential not only for the mother but also for the baby.

Gum problems during pregnancy are the cause for the birth of premature babies and babies with low birth-weight.

Such babies go on to suffer from cerebral palsy, eyesight loss and hearing loss as they grow.

So what should one do to take good care of the teeth when pregnant?

  1. Go for regular dental checkups. The dentist can find out any underlying gum problems and treat them early on without giving them a chance to flare up.
  2. Use a brush with soft bristles and a small head. You may use the brushes meant for kids too.
  3. Switch to a toothpaste containing fluorides. Go for the white pastes, avoid the coloured gel pastes.
  4. Keep a tab on your calcium intake, ensure that the required amount for you and your baby is going into your body.
  5. If you have severe bouts of vomiting, just rinse your mouth after you are done. Do not brush immediately as this will only increase the damage. Wait for at least an hour before you brush.
  6. Report to the dentist at the slightest doubt of any tooth problem.