Pregnancy and Your Dental Health

What You Should Know

Motherhood is a wonderful thing. We all love babies, say the experts at Amazing Smiles Dental. As dentists, we just want expectant mothers to care about their teeth as much as they do about the new arrival to the family.

And it is so true. After all, you think of the new baby and smile. This is a life changing event. It is all you can think about; the moment you become a FAMILY.  You make sure the bedroom is perfectly decorated, you purchase all those beautiful baby clothes and cute accessories. “But oftentimes,” say the experts at Willamette Dental Group, “the one thing you leave out is your own health. We are not referring to your health in general, nor that of your child. we know that you are making your regular check-ups and watching what you eat — but you could be overlooking your dental health.”

As an expectant mother, you want to pay attention to your dental health, and make sure that you get enough calcium and phosphorus. A healthy diet, paired with your prescribed vitamins will provide enough calcium and phosphorus as well as other vitamins and minerals for your baby’s teeth and bones, but you want to be extra careful with your dental health. You still want to make sure that your teeth are in good shape, and that you make routine visits to your dentist throughout your pregnancy. And because there are so many misconceptions with regard to pregnancy and dental health, we decided to team up with the experts at Rose Dental, Willamette Dental Group, Dental Concepts, Beautiful Smiles Dental and Amazing Smiles Dental to find out what you need to know. 


Basically, after our initial conversations we learned this. Your physician and your dentist should work hand in hand to evaluate your healthy throughout your pregnancy and advise you accordingly. This is not a period in your life where you should just see your obstetrician and no other medical professional. “Your dentist is a critical part of you and your baby’s health during this time of your life say the experts at Amazing Smiles Dental Group. 

Pregnancy

The physiologic changes that occur during pregnancy can also result in noticeable changes in your oral health. Changes to your mouth and teeth that you might  notice include:

  • Gingivitis
  • Oral gingival lesions
  • Lesions
  • Tooth Mobility
  • . Periodontal disease

“Be sure to talk to your dentist about these possible changes before they occur, say the dentists at Rose dental. This way you won’t become confused and will know what to expect to happen to your gums and teeth during pregnancy. “Ask your dentist about the different ways you can reinforce good oral health habits to keep your gums and teeth healthy during and after your pregnancy, say the hygienist specialists at Willamette dental group.

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What are The Changes that Might Occur?

Pregnancy gingivitis –  this is a common occurence for expectant mothers. Rose Dental experts say, “It is an increased inflammatory response to the increased plaque that forms during pregnancy due to hormone changes.” It causes the gums to swell and bleed more easily. Your dentist can help you prevent this inflammation but a simple home remedy could also work. Just rinse your mouth with salt water made of 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of warm water. This mixture can help with the irritation and swelling.

Benign Oral Gingival Lesions –  The experts at Dental Concepts told us that about 5% of all women who are pregnant get oral lesions, which are a response to oral pathogens.  lesions tend to minimize and regress after pregnancy. surgical excision is rarely necessary, but these can cause severe pain, bleeding or interference with chewing activities. 

Tooth Mobility – No! your teeth won’t move permanently say the experts at Beautiful Smiles Dental, “But, the  muscles, ligaments and bones that support teeth can temporarily loosen during pregnancy.” This increases tooth mobility but rarely results in tooth loss.

Tooth Erosion  – Amazing Smiles Dental suggests that one of the more prevalent issues in pregnancy is tooth erosion. This comes from the exposure to gastric acid from acid reflux and vomiting which are due to morning sickness.

Cavities –  Pregnancy can result in Dental caries because of the increased acidity in the mouth, lower levels of saliva and greater ingestion of sugary snacks and drinks due to pregnancy craving. And of course due to decreased attention to prenatal and oral health maintenance.

Periodontitis – It comes from untreated gingivitis that progresses to gingivitis. It is an inflammatory response  to the acids created by bacteria living in the mouth.

40% of Women Suffer from Gingivitis

The experts at Williamette showed us a study that identifies an aproximate  40% of all pregnant women  in the USA that have some type of gingivitis or periodontal disease,  especially African-American women, cigarette smokers and women from lower-income families.  Some studies even show an association between periodontal disease and preterm birth. These studies suggest that blood-borne bacteria can be transported to the placental tissues as well as the uterus and cervix, which can sometimes result in Preterm labor, especially in African Americans. However, more research is needed to prove this possibilty.

 

Treatment of Periodontal Disease During Pregnancy

Despite the lack of evidence between periodontal disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes, the treatment of maternal periodontal disease during pregnancy is not associated with any adverse maternal or birth outcomes. Moreover, prenatal periodontal therapy is associated with the improvement of maternal oral health.

 

Oral Health Assessment and Counseling During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a “teachable” moment when women are motivated to adopt healthy behavior. For women of lower socioeconomic status, pregnancy provides a unique opportunity to obtain dental care because of Medicaid insurance assistance with prenatal medical and dental coverage. But many women do not realize that there are dentist with payment plans and other financial options available. Most women do not seek dental care because they often don’t realize that their medicaid covered their dental care needs, or that there were other dental payment plans available to them. According to postpartum survey data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System in 10 states, 56% of mothers did not have dental care and 60% did not have their teeth cleaned during their most recent pregnancy.  It is estimated that only about 25% of Black non-Hispanic women and 25% of Hispanic women  were likely to have their teeth cleaned during pregnancy than the 44% of white non-Hispanic women. Additionally, most women do not receive any counseling about oral health during pregnancy. Prenatal counseling about oral health care has been shown to be highly correlated with teeth cleaning during pregnancy .

 

The Role of Dentists and Obstetritians During Pregnancy

Dental and obstetric teams can be influential in helping women initiate and maintain oral health care during pregnancy to improve lifelong oral hygiene habits and dietary behavior for women and their families. It is a matter of getting financial payment information and informing women of the availability of dentists with payment plans.

There are Dangers Involved Say the Doctors at Beautiful Smiles Dental

For example, women with poor oral health may harbor high levels of Streptococcus mutans in their saliva. These bacteria can be transmitted to newly born infants during common parenting behavior, such as sharing spoons or licking pacifiers. Minimizing the number of cariogenic bacteria in pregnant mothers through good oral health may delay or prevent the onset of colonization of these bacteria in their infants, which results in less early childhood caries.

“It is a shame,” say the doctors at Dental Concepts, “Although most obstetricians acknowledged a need for oral health care during pregnancy, most obstetricians do not use oral health screening questions in their prenatal visits, and do not routinely refer all patients to a dentist.” Even though most obstetricians and dentists agreed that pregnant women should undergo dental services while pregnant. 

Amazing Smiles Dental Group Suggests We Need More Educational Options for Pregnant Women

Improved training in the importance of oral health, recognition of oral health problems, and knowledge of procedure safety during pregnancy may make health care providers more comfortable with assessing oral health and more likely to address it with patients.

At the first prenatal visit, health care providers should assess a woman’s oral health. A simple approach to prenatal assessment can be accomplished by using a simple questionnaire that refers to gum inflammation and pain.

On Another Note, Says Willamette Dental Group

Many women shy away from the dentist during pregnancy fearing the harm of x-rays or anesthesia for the baby. But new modern technology and medication allows for the completion of these processes with no harm to the infant.

 

As part of routine counseling, health care providers should encourage all women to schedule a dental examination, especially if it has been more than 6 months since their last examination or if they have any oral health problems. Patients often need reassurance that prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral conditions, including dental X-rays (with shielding of the abdomen and thyroid) and local anesthesia (lidocaine with or without epinephrine), are safe during pregnancy.

Your Dentist Can Now Administer the Following Treatments Safely During Pregnancy:

  • Extractions
  • Root Canals
  • Restoration
  • Caries Treatment
  • Dentists Should Counsel Patients

A dentist should offer important information with regards to the reinforcement of routine oral health maintenance, such as:

  • limiting sugary foods and drinks
  • brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste
  • flossing once daily
  • Making dental visits twice a year.
  • The use of chlorhexidine and fluoridated mouth rinses
  • The use of xylitol-containing chewing gum to decrease oral bacteria
  • For patients with vomiting and morning sickness, or gastric reflux during late pregnancy, the use of antacids or rinsing with a baking soda solution may help neutralize the associated acid.

 

Concerns Women Have About Oral Health During Pregnancy

Education is a key concept to informing women on how to  keep their mouths healthy your pregnancy. But that education does not always reach women the way it should. and so we have decided to answer some of the questions you might be asking yourself about your oral health and that of your baby’s oral health. 

Does the calcium for the baby’s teeth come from my teeth?

No. This is a common misconception.  the truth is that the child gets calcium from your diet, so you want to take calcium supplements or get an extra dose of dairy products to help those baby bone grow. 

 

How Can I Best Care for My Teeth?

You must prepare against tooth decay and gum disease as best you can. brush your teeth 3 times a day with a fluoridated toothpaste. Floss and use an interdental cleaning brush at least once a day to remove debris from between your teeth. Use an anti-gingivitis mouth rinse after you brush your teeth. brush and floss correctly to keep plaque away. consult with your dentist on what the best brushing and flossing techniques are and what you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthier during pregnancy.

Note: inflammation of the gums, gingivitis and periodontal disease are more common during the second and third trimester of your pregnancy than they are in the first.

Should I Use Fluoride?

Some women decide to take fluoride supplements during pregnancy hoping that this additional fluoride will help the child form strong teeth but there is no real evidence of this fact suggest the experts at Amazing Smiles Dental Clinics. So taking this supplementation can be quite controversial. Consult with your dentist and obstetrician before taking end fluoride supplement. Fluoride supplements do not necessarily help in enamel formation add fluoride usually only works when the teeth have been fully formed.

 

Does pregnancy affect my gums?

Pregnancy causes hormone levels to rise considerably, causing gingivitis and inflammation of the gums. This is common during the second to 8 month period of the pregnancy term, and it causes red, inflamed and tender gums that can bleed when you brush.  It happens frequently to pregnant women and is a response to an increase in bacterial plaque which is caused by the increased level of progesterone in your system.

Some women also experience the  overgrowth of gum tissue, a problem that is known as pregnancy tumors. These lesions usually appear during the second trimester, and although uncomfortable are noncancerous. They are usually a result of excessive plaque, which is just one more reason it is important to visit your dentist regularly during pregnancy.

Access to Dental Care

When living on a lower income family,  it is understandable that oral health care  can often be put off. Approximate 35% of U.S. women  have reported not going to the dentist during their pregnancy. Aside from financial constraints and lack of insurance coverage, barriers to dental care among those underserved include lack of education, lack of access to transportation, and a lack of dental providers willing to work with them. Additional factors that complicate oral health among the underserved include poor nutrition and higher rates of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use. These factors also are apparent during pregnancy.

Is There Adequate Dental Coverage?

It is important for women, obstetricians and dentist to be aware of a patients’ health coverage for dental services during pregnancy so that referrals to an appropriate dental provider can be made. Also, each state’s Medicaid coverage of oral health during pregnancy may vary considerably. Advocacy for broader oral health coverage of women before, during, and after pregnancy will optimize their general and oral health. In many states, Medicaid often covers dental visits during pregnancy, but unfortunately, many women do not realize that they this care is accessible to them. “Many dentists are also conscious of this and offer appropriate payment plans. It is just a matter of finding a local dentist who is willing to work with pregnant patients. 

The Obstetricians Responsibility

Obstetric providers should refer women for dental care in a timely manner with a written note or call, as would be the practice with referrals to any medical specialist. Establishing relationships between prenatal care and oral health providers in the community facilitates a collaborative approach to women’s oral health needs.

 

Conclusion

Regular dental care is a key component to good oral and general health for both mother and child. Despite the lack of evidence that prenatal oral health care improves pregnancy outcomes, ample evidence shows that oral health care during pregnancy is safe and should be recommended to improve the oral and general health of the woman.

Improved oral health of the woman may decrease transmission of potentially cariogenic bacteria to infants and reduce children’s future risk of caries. For many women, obstetrician–gynecologists are the most frequently accessed health care professional, which creates a unique opportunity to educate women throughout their lifespan, including during pregnancy, about the importance of dental care and good oral hygiene.

Recommendations for Patients

  • Discuss oral health with all doctors, both your obstetrician and dentist.
  • Ask about medicaid coverage for oral care.
  • Ask your obstetrician to recommend a dentist who offers payment plans.
  • Realize that oral health care improves a woman’s general health through her lifespan and may also reduce the transmission of potentially caries-producing oral bacteria from mothers to  infants.

 

Recommendations for Obstetricians and Dentists

  • Recommend dental health care during pregnancy
  • Inform patients about their medicaid coverage (will my medicaid cover dental care.)
  • Conduct an oral health assessment during the first prenatal visit.
  • Reassure patients that prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral conditions, including dental X-rays (with shielding of the abdomen and thyroid) and local anesthesia (lidocaine with or without epinephrine), are safe during pregnancy.
  • Inform women that conditions that require immediate treatment, such as extractions, root canals, and restoration (amalgam or composite) of untreated caries, may be managed at any time during pregnancy. Delaying treatment may result in more complex problems.
  • For patients with vomiting secondary to morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum, or gastric reflux during late pregnancy, the use of antacids or rinsing with a baking soda solution (ie, 1 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 1 cup of water) may help neutralize the associated acid.
  • Advocate for broader oral health coverage of women before, during, and after pregnancy. Pregnancy is a unique time when women may gain access to oral health coverage.
  • Reinforce routine oral health maintenance, such as limiting sugary foods and drinks, brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing once daily, and dental visits twice a year.

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