MOTHER’S GUIDE TO ORAL HEALTH
A soul inside; waiting for life. Pregnancy is a beautiful journey when a woman gets to enjoy company inside her own self. There are many things to be concerned about when you are expecting. Right nutrition, getting adequate rest, taking vitamins, discussing (arguing!) with your husband about baby names and so on. During this time the ‘mom to be’ tends to focus more on her bundle of joy that they neglect their own health.
With pregnancy comes physiological changes in the body. Being proactive is more important during pregnancy and special attention is required towards oral care. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may lead to oral issues. A study mentions that in India 60% of pregnant women have some dental issues. Bleeding gums, sensitivity, tooth pain are some common issues (Source: PubMed Central). Oral hygiene plays an important role in safe motherhood.
ORAL ISSUES DURING PREGNANCY
Gum Diseases During pregnancy, women commonly get affected with inflamed and irritated gums commonly known as pregnancy gingivitis. This is a mild form of gum disease that commonly occurs between second and eight months of pregnancy. If left untreated, it can even lead to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. Gum diseases can also lead to preeclampsia; a condition leading to a sharp increase in blood pressure.
Dry mouth Hormonal alterations during pregnancy may cause dry mouth. Without enough saliva to wash away the debris and bacteria, teeth are more susceptible to plaque build-up, caries and cavities. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated may help.
Acidity Along with nausea, stomach acid can reach the mouth and erode the teeth enamel. Vomiting is more common during the initial months of pregnancy and this increases the acidic environment in the mouth. Frequent snacking also keeps the teeth in contact with sugar. Bacteria in the oral cavity feeds on these sugars and increases acidity in the mouth which may weaken teeth enamel.
Risk of cavities Women are more prone to cavities during pregnancy. Consuming more carbohydrates can cause tooth decay. Morning sickness increases the amount of acid in the mouth which also may eat away the tooth enamel.
MOM’S ORAL HEALTH AFFECTS BABY’S HEALTH TOO
Taking care of yourself is taking care of your baby. Bacteria in the oral cavity may enter the bloodstream and travel to the uterus. This may trigger the production of chemicals which may cause preterm labour. Even after the baby is born, poor oral hygiene of the mother can pass harmful bacteria to her baby.
BRUSHING FOR TWO
When a pregnant woman is brushing her teeth, she is brushing for two people. Good oral hygiene is important as this affects the baby’s health also. If you are brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing and rinsing with a mouthwash; keep up the good work. If the answer is no, then this is a good time to start immediately as poor oral hygiene habits during pregnancy may lead to premature delivery, preeclampsia ad gestational diabetes.
NUTRITION FOR ORAL HEALTH
Watermelons dipped in pickle juice, onions with peanut butter, crushed ice cubes…Pregnancy affects the sensory experience with food, sense of aroma and the mood, all of which determines
which type of food you crave for. You might have heard tales of loved ones sent far and wide, at all times to fulfill an expectant mom’s desire.
In addition to practicing regular oral hygiene routine consuming a variety of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy products or cottage cheese would help in keeping the oral cavity healthy. Meat, fish, chicken eggs and nuts also make good choices. Increasing the amount of calcium will help to protect your teeth and bones as well as the needs of your developing baby. Good sources of calcium include; milk, cheese, sugar-free fruit yoghurt and nuts. Vitamin D helps the body to utilize the calcium. Sources of calcium include mackerel, salmon, fatty fish like salmon and margarine.
Baby’s teeth start developing between 3 to 6 months of pregnancy, so eating well can help in healthy forming of baby’s teeth. Taking folic acid supplements, consuming food rich in folate and drinking plenty of water will help to keep your and your baby’s teeth healthy and strong. Limit or avoid foods high in sugar like candies, cake and high sugar beverages.
Pregnancy comes with many responsibilities and taking care of your oral health is no exception. The first thing a baby will see upon entering this world is your smile. Show a healthy smile to your baby!