As you probably know, proper oral hygiene is a component of total well-being. From early childhood through your senior years, neglecting your teeth and gums can have serious consequences, affect self-esteem, and may even lead to additional physical problems. Though causal relationships are difficult to pinpoint, researchers confirm that oral health problems might be symptomatic of other illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Knowing the links between oral health and medical conditions may also alert you to positive steps that assure better overall wellness.
Planning for Pregnancy
Pregnancy, while not an illness, has a definite impact on oral health, and dictates certain cautionary dental practices. Always inform your dentist if you are, or suspect you might be, pregnant. Dental X-rays are not routinely recommended during pregnancy, and routine dental work is safest during the second trimester. But the risk of doing nothing if you require a filling or other dental treatment can be even more detrimental. Your focus during pregnancy should be on your unborn child so, by all means, contact your dental professional in case of an emergency, just as at any other time.
If you are trying to become pregnant, schedule a professional cleaning appointment and full dental examination with X-rays in advance. Tell your dentist of your plans, and discuss the timetable if you plan any ongoing dental procedures.
Watch your Gums
Talk to your dental professional about your gums, because hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase the risk of periodontal problems. Your dentist might recommend some additional measures to help prevent such problems. If you have experienced tender or swollen gums, a sore that is slow to heal, persistent bad breath, or other symptoms of gum disease, addressing those concerns before becoming pregnant will assuage your fears and prevent risk to you and your unborn child.
Increased levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy can affect ligaments and bones and cause loosening of teeth, according to the Mayo Clinic. If this happens, call your dentist immediately.
Follow recommended dental practices: Brush at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. If you find the taste of your toothpaste distasteful, switch brands, or use plain baking soda instead. Floss regularly, rinse with a fluoride solution, and keep your regularly-scheduled appointments.
Trust the Pros
If you have pain, need a filling or face any other emergency, trust your dental professional to ensure your health as well as that of your developing fetus. Never try to endure the pain of toothache or ignore bleeding gums out of fear. Also, never ignore a scheduled appointment simply because you are pregnant. Know that your dentist is as concerned about your health and well-being as you are. In case we have to perform an emergency procedure, treat an infection or perform an extraction, we can coordinate medication and prescribed antibiotics with your medical team.
We at Briglia Dental Group take extra precautions to help our pregnant patients. If you have any concerns, feel free to contact us, and we will schedule a consultation.
Morning sickness can be a very real problem during the early weeks. If persistent nausea interferes with brushing, try a milder toothpaste. We can recommend bland brands that might solve the problem. Rinse your mouth with water after a bout of vomiting, and avoid strongly-flavored mouthwashes that might provoke another round of nausea. Try to establish a routine that works for you, even if you postpone brushing until later in the day.
One of the best things you can do to protect your own oral health and assure the health of your baby is to eat right and forego sugary snacks as much as possible. Despite any cravings you might have for sweet or acidic foods (pickles and ice cream?), try to keep those cravings in check, not only for the sake of your teeth, but for your overall health.
Pregnancy tends to increase oral acidity, so remember to drink plenty of water.
Sticking to a well-balanced, nutritious diet plan will pay huge dividends in terms of nurturing both you and your unborn. Teeth begin to form in about the third month of development, and what you eat during pregnancy determines, in part, how healthy those teeth will become. Cheese, yogurt and low-calorie dairy products are good snacks, and they provide the necessary nutrients for tooth and bone development as well.
Beneficial habits will help you feel better, as well as helping your body return to its pre-pregnancy shape more quickly. Establishing good habits now is also a way to instill sensible dietary habits in children, helping the entire family maintain energy and health during the busy days ahead. Proper diet and nutrition are key to lifelong health and wellness.
After the Baby
Chances are that you will have your hands full immediately after delivery, but once you have settled into a routine, call us to resume your normal schedule of checkups, hygienic services and preventive care. We will want to take new X-rays and check your teeth and gums thoroughly.
This is also the time to talk to us about dental care for your young child. Did you know that current recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry are that a child should have a first dental exam before the age of one? Even those first baby teeth need care, and it’s never too early to set a child on the road to good oral hygiene and a confident smile. We’ll work with you to make that a reality.
Do You Have Questions?
We will be happy to discuss your concerns about the relationships between oral hygiene, health during pregnancy and healthy babies. Briglia Dental Group is a full-service dental practice in West Chester, and we take our commitment to dental health and happy smiles very seriously. Request an appointment today online or call 610-692-4440. We’ll look forward to welcoming you and your family into our dental group.