Although most women get tons of information about the physical effects of hormonal changes during pregnancy, they are not often aware of what these changes can do to oral health. Although good oral hygiene is essential for maternal and fetal health, a small percentage of women see a dentist during pregnancy. Pregnancy does not directly affect the teeth, calcium extraction, and caries; it indirectly affects mouth condition by changing general conditions (changing eating habits, changes in oral hygiene, etc.). Dental care during pregnancy is essential to prevent the devastating effects of oral disease. Moreover, it causes no harm to the baby and mother.
Some pregnancies occur unplanned. Therefore, all married women of childbearing age should care about some considerations. Dental treatments during pregnancy are difficult and complex for both mother and the dentist, even if it is not dangerous. On the other hand, although performing radiography in pregnant women is allowed with some considerations, it is not desirable and acceptable for mothers. Also, medications are prescribed to pregnant women with restrictions and permission of a gynecologist. Emergencies that could have been prevented before pregnancy cause pain, suffering, anxiety, and discomfort, so the best way is prevention and treatment before pregnancy.
Oral diseases progress silently and asymptomatically in many cases. For this reason, people notice dental problems at chronic stages that it has spread and needs moderate or even advanced treatments. Therefore, it is possible for a woman who has no discomfort or complaints about her teeth and oral condition to experience acute discomfort and dental emergency during pregnancy. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that all women of childbearing age refer to regular periodic checkups every six months and, if necessary, diagnostic radiographs. As a result, this reduces anxiety and minimizes the need for dental services during pregnancy.
What are the most common dental problems during pregnancy?
Lack of attention to decayed teeth and dental plaque before and during pregnancy can cause problems for women during pregnancy. Decayed teeth may cause pain, acute abscesses, or fractures during pregnancy, which need to be urgently controlled and treated. In addition, a benign tumor grows in pregnant women’s mouths during pregnancy, the chief cause of which is dental plaque and the constant stimulation of the gums and mucous membranes by it.
Reports indicate that the most common oral disease in pregnant women is gingivitis due to hormonal changes. Hormonal changes indirectly compromise gingival health. Changes in diet and number of meals, nausea, and lack of oral hygiene due to changes in living conditions (work, rest, sleep, and food) lay the groundwork for microbe growth on the surface of the teeth and lead to this disease.
Causes of toothache during pregnancy
Tooth decay during pregnancy and swelling and inflammation of the gums are the most significant. Some of the causes of toothache in pregnancy can include the following:
- Dietary changes: Your diet changes during pregnancy. Your need to drink milk increases, and you often take more sugary foods daily. This can lead to tooth decay and increase your need for dental care to manage caries.
- Inflammation or infection of the gums during pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to gum swelling and inflammation. This gingivitis associated with pregnancy can increase the risk of gum infection, dental disease, and even painful gingival abscesses and bad breath. More than half of women will experience some degree of gingivitis during pregnancy which is a common phenomenon.
- Morning sickness: When you experience nausea during pregnancy, stomach acid can enter your mouth and expose your teeth. This can lead to toothache during pregnancy.
- Calcium deficiency: Pregnant women need more calcium to help the fetal bones grow. Even with supplements, most pregnants suffer from calcium deficiency. This can damage the enamel, which can lead to tooth decay and toothache, or even the need for tooth extraction and the need for implants.
- Oral health problems: Pregnant women may be allergic to many factors, including the taste and smell of toothpaste. As a result, they brush their teeth less, which can increase the risk of tooth decay, gum and tooth problems, pain, and tooth extraction.
To read more: 10 practices can keep healthy teeth and gums
The relationship between periodontal disease and preterm delivery and low birth weight infants
Studies show that mothers with advanced gum disease are more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies. The role of periodontitis in causing preterm labor was greater than smoking or alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Low birth weight babies are those who weigh less than 2,500 grams at birth and are probably 40 times more likely to die in infancy than normal-born babies. About 7% of all infants weighing less than 2,500 grams are born, but two-thirds of infant mortality occurs in this category.
Some considerations should be made for dental treatments considering the effects of hormonal changes on oral health during pregnancy. In the following, we will explain the issues that have occupied the minds of all pregnant mothers.
To read more: Bad breath, an intolerable problem for many people
Gingivitis prevention during pregnancy
It is the most appropriate to prevent any dental problem, and the best step you can take is to inform women about dental care practices. In addition to teaching practical ways of prevention such as using toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and waterjet, it is necessary to inform them about the complications of gum disease. Next, if gingivitis has occurred, the person must see a dentist for a definite diagnosis and treatment. A dentist in a dental clinic removes plaque from the tooth surface and cleans it from the dental collar. Doing this usually does not require anesthesia and is not dangerous for the mother or fetus. In some cases, you should first talk to your gynecologist and request confirmation to do this task.
The effect of dental radiographs on fetal health
Because the radiation on the radiographs shines on the head and neck, the amount of radiation reaching the fetus is so venial compared to the natural radiation reaching the mother in everyday normal life. There is no information on fetal complications from the dental radiography of the mother. Even if the mother has a complete radiograph of each tooth, and even if the mother is not wearing a lead apron, the amount of x-rays reaching the fetus is not significant.
But, since the mother’s thyroid is in the radiation range, not covering the thyroid may cause the baby to be born with a lower birth weight. Therefore, it is necessary to cover the pregnant mother’s thyroid with a lead collar during intraoral radiography. So remember that in case of pregnancy, be sure to inform the radiologists to take the necessary protective measures. At the same time, the guidelines for prescribing oral radiographs include all people, pregnant and non-pregnant, or children and adults alike, and only emphasize the need for stricter protection measures for children and pregnant women.
The effect of dental drugs on the fetus
There are conflicting studies on the harmful effects of dental drugs on the fetus. One of the most widely used drugs is lidocaine. Since this drug passes through the placenta, it is better to control its use. The most important factor is that pregnant women do not suffer much pain in dentistry. Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent or treat infections before or after dental work if the doctor so chooses. Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, cephalexin, and erythromycin are safe for pregnant women.
Can the endodontic treatment be performed during pregnancy?
If you have ever experienced pain from a root canal infection, you know that this is an emergency problem, and it also applies during pregnancy. This condition is risky for pregnant women. Therefore, endodontic treatment is not only necessary but also vital for maintaining the mother’s health. Emergency endodontic treatment can be performed at all stages of pregnancy under local anesthesia.
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