Poor dental care during pregnancy may lead to premature babies

Poor dental care during pregnancy may lead to premature babies

Dental care during pregnancy is as important for the mother as it is for the unborn child. Read on to know more

Did you know if you ignored dental care during pregnancy, you could risk a low birth-weight baby? Yes, you read it right. Your dental health is no longer your own business once you conceive. It is equally important for your unborn child.

Dr Gunita Singh, cosmetic and laser dental surgeon at Dentem, The Dental and Orthodontic Clinic, Delhi, says, “Pregnancy is a unique time in a woman’s life and is characterised by complex and physiological changes which can adversely affect oral health.” According to Dr Gunita, almost half the percentage of expecting mothers suffer from gum diseases.

Dental issues during pregnancy

“As a result of hormonal changes and a relatively poor dental hygiene, gums tend to become extremely sensitive,” says Dr Gunita while listing seven problems that pregnant women can face due to poor dental hygiene:

  • Gingivitis: It is mild gum disease that is characterised by inflammation. Gingivitis is primarily caused due to bacterial infection.
  • Periodontitis: It’s a serious gum infection that causes inflammation of the tissues surrounding the tooth. This problem is primarily caused due to a bacterial growth in the mouth and leads to the shrinking of the gums. This, in turn, results in loss of tooth.
  • Gum bleeding: It is a forewarning of gum problems in your mouth. In case you’re suffering from bleeding gums, immediately consult a doctor. Bleeding is caused due to either brushing too hard, vitamin-k deficiency, ill-fitting dentures, improper flossing or serious problems like leukemia or scurvy.
  • Swollen gums: It is a problem that could create discomfort for an expecting mother. Swollen gums are primarily caused due to plaque or tartar, food stuck in the teeth, old and faulty restorations, hormonal changes and medications.
  • Bad mouth odour: It is again a forewarning of gum problems in your mouth. It could be caused due to several reasons such as bacteria formation between teeth, salivary gland problems or dry mouth (xerostomia).
  • Toothache: It is the pain experienced at the foot of the tooth. It can be caused due to the aforementioned reasons or cracked teeth, dental decay, leaked fillings and loss of tooth among others.
  • Growth and tumours: It is the introduction of a foreign body in the tooth. It is caused by food stuck between the teeth, medications, gum cancers or gum ulceration.

Continue reading to know about the do’s and don’ts of dental care during pregnancy.

Poor dental care can harm your pregnancy

If you are going through any of the mentioned dental problems, rush to consult a specialist. The growth and development of the unborn child can be adversely affected if you develop a lackadaisical attitude towards dental care. “Studies have shown that pregnant women with plaque bacteria and inflammatory protein may lead to premature babies or babies with low birth weight,” says Dr Singh.

In fact, apart from these two medical problems, poor dental care can also lead to infertility. “There is a positive correlation seen between the dental health and infertility in men and women.

dental care during pregnancy

Regular visit to a dentist can prevent development of periodontal diseases during pregnancy (Image courtesy: Yellow Pages)

Gingivitis, periodontitis and caries cause bacteria from the mouth to travel through the blood and enter various male and female reproductive organs. This produces bacterial infections which leads to infertility. It is also seen that dental infections lead to increased release of prostaglandins which leads to preterm labour and low birth weight babies,” says Dr Tanvir Singh, an orthodontist based out of Delhi.

He adds that in a recent study, experts from Sweden analysed data on over 3,400 pregnant women from Western Australia who were taking part in a study called SMILE. They investigated how gum diseases affect pregnancy outcomes. “They found that women with gum disease took on average six months longer to conceive than women without gum disease,” says Dr Tanvir.

Improving oral health of expectant and new mothers and providing oral health counselling may reduce transmission of such bacteria from mother to child, thereby delaying onset of such bacterial infections.

Experts suggest the following five dos and don’ts for dental care during pregnancy:

Dos:
  • Brush your teeth twice daily with a fluoride tooth paste as well as floss
  • Limit food containing sugar to mealtime only
  • Choose water or low-fat milk as a beverage and avoid carbonated drinks
  • Choose fruits rather than fruit juices to meet daily fruit intake
  • Obtain necessary dental treatment before delivery
Don’ts:
  • Avoid self medication because certain medications can have adverse effects on your teeth without affecting any other part of your body
  • Avoid snacking on sweets. This leads to accumulation of plaque in the teeth and thereby, causes bacterial infections
  • Don’t go for dental procedures after conception. You never know what won’t work for your body in that phase. It’s better to avoid procedures of braces or fillings
  • Don’t decrease fluid intake. Keep consuming as much fluids as possible. It’s a great way of keeping the teeth clean and gums replenished and healthy

Make sure that you visit the doctor and take proper dental care during your pregnancy. “Regular visit to your dentist can prevent development of periodontal disease during pregnancy, loss of teeth and oral, head and neck cancers,” says Dr Gunita.

(Feature Image courtesy: h2offloss)

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj