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"Oral hygiene during pregnancy" Expert Talk with Dr Irfana Sulthan

Is dental health important during pregnancy? Can the hormones affect your unborn baby? Most of us are least concerned about oral hygiene especially during the buss phase of life called pregnancy. Dr Irfana Sulthan of Unik32 Dental Clinic helps us in understanding this subject with a wider perspective. Pregnancy is a unique, exciting time in a women’s life, and there are so many changes going on in the human body during pregnancy and the mouth is no exception, so good oral hygiene is extremely important during pregnancy.

1. While pregnancy relates a lot to a lot of topics, dental health is more or less least bothered. Why?

Oral health is often the most neglected form of health during all stages of life and the most important cause of neglect is lack of awareness among people and their problems also increase when a lady is pregnant because of misperceptions and misleading information in society or due to lack of knowledge. As a dental practitioner, I help my patients by educating them about the potential impact of pre-existing dental conditions and diagnosing and treating dental conditions that can develop with or during pregnancy. It is very important to get a pre-dental check-up before planning for pregnancy so that they are informed of the changes that will occur throughout the pregnancy and can avoid unpleasant concerns during the pregnancy. Because social media being a powerful tool, I have used it to spread awareness about the importance of oral hygiene during pregnancy

2. While pregnancy causes hormonal changes that may cause gum diseases, how does this affect the developing baby?

There is a strong and consistent relationship between Gum disease and premature labour and or low birth weight (LBW). Premature labour is the leading cause of infant mortality rate. Periodontal disease, a chronic low-grade infection of the gums, has been associated with preterm labour or premature birth. When a pregnant woman has excessive bacteria growth in her mouth, it can enter the bloodstream through her gums and travel to the uterus—triggering the production of chemicals called prostaglandins—that are suspected to induce premature labour.

3.Can pregnant women visit a dentist?

Pregnancy is not a reason to avoid routine dental care and necessary treatment for oral health problems because dental care is safe and effective during pregnancy. It is a crucial period of time in a woman’s life and maintaining oral health is directly related to good overall health. Dental diagnosis and treatment of disease processes that need immediate attention can be provided safely in the second trimester of pregnancy, delay in necessary treatment could result in significant risk to the mother and fetus. It is a crucial period in a woman’s life and maintaining oral health is directly related to good overall health. The American Dental Association (ADA) (2007) has taken a common-sense approach to the issue. They recommend that emergencies, which almost always require some form of radiography, be handled at any time during pregnancy. There are two types of dental procedures, one is elective which is not an emergency condition, and another is non-elective procedures that need immediate attention. However, all elective dental procedures should be postponed until after the delivery, thus eliminating any risk to the fetus.

4. Why should all elective dental procedures be postponed until delivery?

Pregnancy is not a long-term, chronic condition, and routine elective procedures can be done later. During pregnancy, there are two patients—the mother and her fetus—and we must be concerned about both. Maternal dental treatments, including medications and anaesthetics, have an impact on the fetus. Although there is no direct link between elective procedures during pregnancy and pre-term births. But it is not worth risking your fetus' life.

5. How pregnancy will affect your mouth?

1.The main reason is the increased level of certain hormones, like progesterone and estrogen, during pregnancy which causes the increased blood flow in the gums, making them more sensitive to the presence of plaques and bacteria. In addition to this, everyone’s tired at the end of the day, but add in pregnancy, and that leads to a whole new level of exhaustion. As a result, routine night time brushing and flossing can get skipped.

2. Morning sickness: Stomach acid makes its way into the mouth and can weaken tooth enamel—putting the expectant mothers at a greater risk for cavities

3. Frequent snacking: This also leads to increased production of acid-loving bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutants, which produce more acid to weaken enamel.

6. What dental problems can arise during pregnancy?

Pregnancy Gingivitis-inflammation of the gums that can cause swelling and tenderness. Your gums also may bleed a little when you brush or floss. This is mainly related to the hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious forms of gum disease, periodontitis. If periodontitis is left untreated, it can cause loosening of teeth.

Increased Risk of Tooth Decay-Pregnant women may be more prone to cavities. Mainly because of the increased intake of carbohydrates than usual, this can cause decay. Morning sickness can increase the amount of acid your mouth is exposed to, which can eat away at the outer covering of your tooth (enamel).

Pregnancy Tumors

In some women, overgrowths of tissue called “pregnancy tumours” appear on the gums, most often during the second trimester. It is not cancer but rather just swelling that happens most often between teeth. They may be related to excess plaque. They usually disappear after your baby is born, but if you are concerned, talk to your dentist about removing them.

7. Is dental x-ray safe during pregnancy?

Yes, it's safe to get an X-ray during pregnancy. Although radiation from dental X-rays is extremely low, your dentist or hygienist will cover you with a leaded apron that minimizes exposure to the abdomen. Your dental office will also cover your throat with a leaded collar to protect your thyroid from radiation.

8. Many expecting moms hesitate to brush their teeth or follow strict oral health because of morning sickness, vomiting sensitisation, and other uneasiness. How can one prioritise oral health during such emotional and physiological trauma?

If morning sickness is keeping you from brushing your teeth, change to a bland-tasting toothpaste during pregnancy. Ask your dentist or hygienist to recommend brands.

Rinse your mouth out with water or a mouth rinse if you suffer from morning sickness and have bouts of frequent vomiting. Try to distract yourself during brushing that will prevent you from experiencing gag reflex

9. A message or key tips on overall oral health for pregnant mothers.

● Taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums during pregnancy can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

● Brush thoroughly with fluoride-containing toothpaste twice a day.

● Floss between your teeth daily

● Rinse your mouth at regular time intervals.

● Limit frequent snacking.

● Visit your dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and check-up.

● Good nutrition keeps the oral cavity healthy and strong; sensible, balanced meals containing calcium and limited excess acidity and sugar are best for you and your baby's oral health.

● More frequent cleanings from the dentist also will help control plaque and prevent gingivitis.

Love, Team She


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