Pregnancy and Oral Health
In Australia, many mums-to-be believe that it is not safe to see the dentist. A 2016 survey by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) reveals that 53 per cent of women across the country are neglecting their oral health during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, rapid and multiple hormone changes can increase the risk of inflammation and bleeding in gums. All of these make expectant mothers more prone to developing gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss.
In the aforementioned survey, it was stated that 38 per cent of pregnant women have experienced bleeding gums as well as tooth sensitivity—all of which are symptoms of gum disease.
Seek Treatment ASAP – Before, During & After Pregnancy
Along with your gynecologist, your dentist should be one of the doctors that you need to consult before, during and after pregnancy. In efforts to reduce all possible risks for their babies, there’s a good percentage of pregnant women who choose to delay oral treatment. But the real truth couldn’t be the exact opposite. Pregnancy and oral health are critical at this time!
Hormonal imbalances can manifest in a variety of ways. There are visible signs such as unpredictable mood swings, drastic increase in appetite and uneven skin pigmentation. However, there are changes that may not be readily noticeable but can impact oral health. This is why routine check-ups and regular cleanings are more important than ever during pregnancy. Do not hesitate to see the dentist and consult with them for medical advice.
X-Rays are Safer Than You Think
Exposing the unborn child to radiation is the last thing on any expectant mother’s mind. However, this is not what happens when you go in for a dental x-ray exam. The notion that dental x-rays are not safe for pregnant women is purely a myth.
Medical specialists take every precaution to minimise the amount of radiation, which is already at a very low level as it is. In fact, throughout a pregnancy term, the baby is inevitably exposed to minimal radiation from a range of environmental sources, even radioactive substances that naturally develop in areas of the mother’s body near the womb.
Higher Risk with Morning Sickness
In addition, ADA survey notes that three quarters of pregnant women in Australia lack awareness of the correlation between morning sickness and dental damage, some of which are irreversible. A symptom of pregnancy, morning sickness involves nausea or vomiting, which can happen at any moment. Vomit can erode your teeth as it is highly acidic. Once dental erosion develops, it can make your teeth more prone to being sensitive.
So what should be done after vomiting? The answer is not to brush your teeth right away. Doing so will scrape off the enamel around your teeth, which has now been softened by the acidic substance, leaving your teeth more vulnerable than ever. Instead, rinse your mouth as thoroughly as you can with water. You can also chew on foods that are known to neutralise acids. This can be any dairy product—cheese, yoghurt or ice cream—or sugar-free gum. Wait another hour or so before brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste.
When Cravings Strike
Unusual yet strong cravings are normal during pregnancy. Sometimes, mums-to-be will crave oversized portions of unhealthy food during the oddest of times. There is also a tendency to eat strange food combinations that one wouldn’t normally eat. You might find yourself wanting to devour an entire bag of chips or a whole pint of ice cream. Junk food, especially ones that are extra salty and sweet, are what a lot of pregnant women reach for. But too much of these can lead to dental issues down the line, not to mention sudden weight gain. Remember that consuming too much sugar makes you more vulnerable to tooth decay. For a sweet yet healthy fix, try a mix of fresh fruits with yoghurt or something similar.
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