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Oral Hygiene During Pregnancy

 

Oral Hygiene During Pregnancy

CPT Giovanny Zalamar
General Dentist
USA DENTAC, Fort Drum

 

Pregnancy is a very important and special time in your life. It is essential that you take care of your teeth and gums during this time due to the fact that pregnancy can cause hormonal changes that can increase the risk for gum disease. Pregnancy and early childhood are important times to access oral health care because the consequences of poor oral hygiene can have a lifelong impact. Also, a healthy mouth is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Good oral habits will help you maintain a healthy smile. In addition, good oral hygiene is an excellent habit that you can teach to the new member of the family.

If you are planning to get pregnant it would be recommended that you visit your dentist. In this visit you can have a professional cleaning, and an oral exam to detect any dental problem before you conceive. On the other hand, if you are already pregnant tell your doctor, usually only emergency treatments are done during the first and third trimester. These are critical times in the baby's growth and development and it's simply wise to avoid exposing the mother to procedures that could in any way influence the baby's growth and development.

Hormone changes, mainly estrogen and progesterone, can cause many changes in the mouth. Severe mobility, however, may be a sign of severe periodontal disease and should be evaluated by a dentist as soon as possible. Hormonal changes can also cause changes in saliva flow, either increasing or decreasing it. Changes in the quantity and quality can also occur, making it less protective. Some types of bacteria that normally live in the mouth increase in numbers during pregnancy. These bacteria can cause tooth decay or gum disease.

It is advised that when pregnant you fallow your doctor’s advice concerning diet and nutrition. The general recommendation is to eat nutritious, well-balanced meals made up of foods from the five major food groups: breads, cereals and other grains; fruits; vegetables; meat, fish, poultry and protein alternates; and milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products. Try to resist the urge to snack constantly. When you need a snack, choose foods that are nutritious for you and your baby such as raw fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is found in fruits and vegetables such as plums, strawberries and raspberries. It is usually made from certain hardwoods such as the birch tree.

Xylitol:

  • Blocks bacteria from producing the acids that cause tooth decay
  • Decreases the levels of cavity-causing bacteria
  • Decreases plaque formation by bacteria on the teeth
  • Enhances remineralization (hardening) of weakened tooth structure

It is very important to maintain good oral hygiene practices to prevent both dental decay and gum disease. Dental floss prevents both dental decay on contact surfaces and gum disease. Brushing should be performed at least twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride demineralizes (hardens) any areas of the tooth enamel that have been weakened by bacterial acids. There is no need to rinse the mouth after brushing. In fact, NOT rinsing allows the fluoride to remain in contact with the tooth surfaces, where it is most effective. American Dental Association approved antibacterial mouth rinses are very helpful for fighting gingivitis. Keeping your regular dental exam schedule allows your dentist to detect and treat any problems that may develop during your pregnancy.