Keep mum smiling
Looking after your teeth and gum health is even more important when you’re expecting
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.
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.
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.
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!”