Keep mum smil­ing

Look­ing af­ter your teeth and gum health is even more im­por­tant when you’re ex­pect­ing

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Contents -

Let’s face it, we have all been guilty of let­ting things slide or putting our needs on the back burner be­cause we’re too busy with family, work and life. Yet, a huge num­ber of women are ig­nor­ing signs that their oral health is suf­fer­ing. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey by Oral-B, more than half of Aus­tralians ig­nore the early signs of gum dis­ease, de­spite two-thirds of peo­ple ac­knowl­edg­ing that it can lead to per­ma­nent dam­age.

Smart mouth

When you’re preg­nant it’s es­sen­tial to take greater care of your mouth as more blood can flow to the gums, thanks to preg­nancy hor­mones. In­creased amounts of es­tro­gen and pro­ges­terone can make your gums more sus­cep­ti­ble to plaque bac­te­ria, in­flam­ma­tion and bleed­ing. Oral-B con­sul­tant and clin­i­cal as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor Matthew Hopcraft says many mums-to-be are some­times un­aware of just how im­por­tant main­tain­ing good oral health is for them­selves and their ba­bies. “You are likely to be eat­ing and drink­ing more fre­quently dur­ing preg­nancy, of­ten with a higher in­take of sugar and an in­creased risk of cav­i­ties. So stick to a solid den­tal reg­i­men,” he says.

Check your­self

Ex­am­in­ing your gums for red­ness, swelling or blood af­ter brush­ing and sched­ul­ing a den­tal check-up to ad­dress any prob­lems as soon as you dis­cover you’re ex­pect­ing is a good idea, as you can tackle any po­ten­tial gum dis­ease be­fore it is too late. “Sched­ule check-ups be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter your preg­nancy to be ex­tra cau­tious,” Matthew says. “Sched­ule a visit to your den­tal pro­fes­sional be­fore you con­ceive to re­solve any pre-ex­ist­ing den­tal is­sues, and if vis­it­ing dur­ing your first trimester, let them know you’re preg­nant and get a check-up and rou­tine clean.”

Is it safe?

Most den­tal work is safe dur­ing preg­nancy, and lo­cal anaes­thetic is com­pletely safe for nec­es­sary treat­ment while you’re grow­ing a bub. How­ever, try to have any unavoidable work done in the sec­ond trimester. “Some­times emer­gency den­tal work, such as a root canal or tooth ex­trac­tion, which is per­formed un­der lo­cal anaes­thetic, is nec­es­sary and safe to be per­formed when you’re preg­nant,” ex­plains Matthew. “Any elec­tive treat­ments, in­clud­ing teeth whiten­ing and other cos­metic pro­ce­dures, should not be car­ried out un­til af­ter your baby has been born,” he says.

Den­tal down­side

If you ex­pe­ri­ence bleed­ing when you brush or have red, puffy and ten­der gums, it’s prob­a­bly gin­givi­tis. This is quite com­mon in preg­nancy and a trip to your den­tist will help you to keep on top of it. A pro­fes­sional clean can help get rid of bac­te­ria form­ing in the mouth as well as min­imis­ing any un­com­fort­able symp­toms

Sched­ule check-ups be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter your preg­nancy.

you may ex­pe­ri­ence. “There has been some re­search to suggest that there is a link be­tween gum dis­ease and pre­ma­ture birth with low birth weight. Although it is not con­clu­sive, treat­ment of gum dis­ease should be a high pri­or­ity,” ad­vises Matthew. Early-stage, pre­ventable gum dis­eases such as gin­givi­tis af­fect one in five adults in Aus­tralia, so sim­ply brush­ing of­ten and mak­ing an ap­point­ment to see your oral hy­gien­ist as soon as pos­si­ble can give you peace of mind. In more se­vere cases, gum dis­ease can lead to gum re­ces­sion or even tooth loss. Matthew says, “There are also links be­tween gum dis­ease and se­vere health con­di­tions, so don’t leave it too late to visit your den­tist!”

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