Maternal oral health, which includes the health of the gums, teeth and jawbone, is a mirror of general health and well-being of an expectant mother. Last week, I expatiated on the mother’s sense of taste during pregnancy, an unborn baby supposedly depleting the levels of calcium from the mother’s teeth and the safety of dental visits. Brace yourself for part two of this series and let us look into other frequently asked questions regarding the dental health of expectant mothers.
- Are pregnant women at a higher risk of bleeding gums?
Bleeding gums are commonly seen during pregnancy. They occur as a result of the hormonal changes during pregnancy. Both bleeding gums and gum swellings are symptoms of a dental condition called gingivitis. If it occurs during pregnancy, it is referred to as pregnancy-induced gingivitis. Generally, gum disease results from the gum fighting against the toxins and by-products of plaque bacteria that settles between the teeth and the gums. Furthermore, if plaque is not routinely removed via regular brushing and flossing, the gums become inflamed in trying to fight off these germs. In view of this, hormonal changes during pregnancy make the gums react to the toxins and by-products of plaque bacteria even worse than it would have occurred in a normal individual. Consequently, it is important that expectant mothers brush twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush, floss their teeth at least once daily and also visit the dentist regularly for a professional dental cleaning to reduce plaque and tartar (plaque) which trigger gum disease to occur.
- Can I brush immediately after a bout of morning sickness?
Morning sickness is seen to be a part and parcel of pregnancy for many women worldwide. It is usually associated with nausea and vomiting in the mornings. But how does morning sickness after the oral health of an expectant mother? Stomach contents that are expelled are acid-based and they cause severe erosion on the teeth. If this happens over a period of time, it can cause tooth wear and eventually lead to tooth sensitivity. One should avoid brushing the teeth immediately after a bout of morning sickness because this can cause more tooth wear because you will be brushing the acids all over the teeth. It is advisable that you rinse your mouth with a cup of water after vomiting and wait for at least 30 minutes before you brush your teeth.
- Are x-rays safe during pregnancy?
This question is of primary concern to most expectant mothers. They become a bit uneasy when the dentist suggests that they take a dental x-ray of a painful tooth. I am here to assure you that an exposure from a modern dental x-ray machine is of a very low dose of radiation. They are not high enough to cause any effect on the developing foetus. The dentist will also go the extra mile of providing you with a lead apron and thyroid guard which will absorb any stray radiations during the process of taking the dental x-ray. Despite the fact that dental x-rays are safe, we still advise expectant mothers to avoid them during the first trimester of pregnancy since this period is considered to be the most crucial stage of pregnancy. This relative contraindication exists except in certain instances when there is a dental emergency. Additionally, if the pain is non-specific, it will require the dentist to take an x-ray to enable him or her treat you properly.
In conclusion, let us all endeavour to make oral health a priority before, during and after pregnancy. As the old adage goes, “prevention is better than cure.” I pray for a safe and healthy delivery for both you and the baby. I believe you are going to be an amazing mother to your little one!
Thanks for reading.
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