by Michele Brown
Going to the dentist is probably not at the top of your favorite's list, but if you are pregnant, don't think for a minute you can neglect those pearly whites that line your mouth and serve you so well each time you eat or smile.
It's understandable that teeth and gums may seem unimportant compared to all those other physical, and mental, changes taking over the body and mind of a pregnant woman. Even during a normal pregnancy, one can feel “possessed” and feel too busy dealing with all those other concerns to worry about proper dental care. That’s why so many pregnant women neglect even routine brushing and flossing...and end up with bigger oral problems down the road.
My blog for this week will describe some of the oral changes that occur during pregnancy, the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene and the guidelines of proper dental care during the nine month gestation period. I can not stress enough the importance of reading this information right through to the last paragraph. I promise you, no one ever regretted taking good care of their teeth and I will give you some well-researched advice and how, and when, to do this successfully.
The hormonal changes of pregnancy, food cravings and acid regurgitation that commonly occur may make a pregnant mother more prone to poor oral hygiene leading to increased risk of gingivitis and severe periodontal disease with resulting damage to gums and other structures and, ultimately, loss of teeth. Of the highest concern to the pregnant woman is that poor oral hygiene may adversely effect the pregnancy. Therefore, it is imperative that we give this important area serious attention.
High levels of estrogen and progesterone produced by the placenta may effect the gingiva (gums), causing inflammation of the structure that holds the teeth in place causing increased tooth mobility. There is an increase in oral vascularization and a decrease in immune response which may also increase susceptibility to oral infections. The gums will become swollen, inflamed, reddened and bleed readily on tooth brushing or flossing, especially with poor oral hygiene and when plaque is present. Gingivitis occurs in 60–75% of all pregnant women. In addition, hormonal changes may cause excessive saliva production called ptyalism, or less commonly, a dry mouth called xerostomia.
Emphasizing proper nutrition. The following food recommendations should be followed: