Monday February 10 2014

Pregnant women need good dental care

By Richard Kabanda

Not many women think about dental care as part of overall wellbeing during pregnancy. As such, many will be making appointments to see the gynaecologist, but rarely to see the dentist. However, here is reason why you should be concerned about your dental care if you are pregnant.

Gum disease
Hormonal changes caused by pregnancy can alter the way your gums react to dental plaque, causing them to become irritated or inflamed. Studies have shown that pregnancy can increase the amount of bacteria present in your mouth, so maintaining a good dental regimen that includes brushing and flossing is important.

Morning sickness and oral care
If you suffer from morning sickness, brushing your teeth can seem like an almost impossible task since the smell of toothpaste can cause an irritating reaction. To manage this kind of situation, try different, mild flavours of toothpaste whose scent you can tolerate.

At the very least, you may consider brushing using water and baking soda and avoiding the toothbrush altogether. Another serious threat to your teeth during pregnancy is the acid that enters the teeth during morning sickness. If left unchecked, it could erode the enamel, leading to teeth decay. Thoroughly rinsing your mouth with water or brushing your teeth can remove and neutralise much of the acid.

Extracting teeth
During the first and third trimesters of your pregnancy, you should avoid having your tooth extracted since the foetus is susceptible to developmental malformation that can be passed on by the mother. However, extracting teeth in the second trimester has been shown to be safe for both mother and child. Dental X-rays on the other hand should be avoided throughout the pregnancy.

There is evidence that women with periodontal disease while pregnant are at risk of having low birth weight or premature babies, so it is important to take care of your teeth and gums during this crucial period. Good dental hygiene habits during pregnancy positively affect the health of your unborn child.

The writer is a dentist