Why Expectant Mothers Need a Professional Dental Clean

Pregnancy can take its toll on the body and put the health of teeth and gums at risk. Find out how you can minimise the danger with effective dental care routines.

Why Expectant Mothers Need a Professional Dental Clean

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You can make all of the preparations in the world for the arrival of a new baby, but there is still nothing quite like that moment when everything changes. Whether this is your first child or your fifth, there is bound to be excitement, apprehension, and determination in spades. For most women, pregnancy is a really thrilling experience, but it can also be rather stressful.

It is important to remember that after conceiving, a woman is held responsible not just for her own physical health but for the wellbeing of her baby too. And this involves all manner of new duties and expectations. There are constant hospital appointments, a mountain of check-ups and exams, and a whole host of friends and family members offering their advice.

The truth is that being the focus of all this attention and pressure, however well intentioned, can be a little overwhelming. It is easy to forget certain things and let essential tasks slide, especially for the chance to grab a quiet afternoon alone. You might be diligently sticking to a healthy eating plan, taking supplements by the pound, and avoiding heavy exercise, as recommended. But, are you keeping up with a thorough dental care routine?

The Strains and Stresses of Pregnancy

It might sound like a strange question to ask of a woman living through one of the busiest and most exhausting life experiences. After all, how many expectant mothers can find the time to visit the dentist as they near full term? Yet, the link between oral health and pregnancy is a firmly established one. As hormones reach peak levels and the body starts to change in an endless variety of ways, the teeth become particularly vulnerable.

This is a time of complete upheaval. A mother to be may look glowing and radiant on the outside, but inside, her muscles, organs, and joints are operating in a heightened state. The same rules apply to her tongue and teeth and this can lead to chronic dental conditions like gingivitis and periodontitis. The good news is that these issues can both be avoided with the right kind of dental care and monitoring.

The first place to start is always with your dentist. If you find out that you are pregnant, you are advised to book a check-up with your local surgery. This is a routine affair and it will give you the chance to identify any potential dental problems before moving around gets awkward. It is always going to be much simpler to fix cavities and carry out repairs during the earlier stages of pregnancy, so do not wait until the last minute.

Collaborating with Your Dentist

This routine appointment will also give you an opportunity to share the happy news with your dentist. This is very important, because a dental specialist must be given any and all information that might impact the safety of drugs and treatments. It is your responsibility to inform your dentist. If they do not know, they cannot tailor your treatments. While pregnancy is not guaranteed to change your dental strategy, it may mean that certain medications and anesthetics are no longer offered.

If you have any questions about how pregnancy might affect your dental health, do not be afraid to speak up and voice them. With proper cleaning and maintenance, teeth can be kept strong while carrying to full term, but there are some risks that increase. The most common issues involve the gums. This area of the body is sensitive and vulnerable to environmental changes at the best of times, so pregnancy can send it into a frenzy.

The gums will be more prone to swelling, painful sensitivity, chronic bleeding, and inflammation. If left untreated, all of these symptoms can end up contributing to tooth loss and bone deterioration. According to recent studies, the amount of oral bacteria present in the mouth of a mother can actually end up influencing the health and weight of her newborn. It should be clear than why caring for teeth is so important during pregnancy.

Arranging a Professional Dental Clean

For the most part, people do just fine when it comes to taking care of their teeth. If you brush twice a day, floss regularly, eat a balanced diet, and keep up with dental appointments, problems should be few and far between. The only time that you really need to seek a professional dental clean, carried out by a dentist, if you are already in the chair for a check-up or have worries about discoloration.

Expectant mothers, however, are advised to have their teeth professionally cleaned at least twice during their pregnancy. This is beneficial for a number of different reasons. For one, it provides the most thorough clean available. And secondly, it gives your dentist an opportunity to root around in your mouth and scrutinise the most vulnerable areas. If they spot any weak or sensitive areas, a plan of action can be put in place immediately.

Plus, a professional clean performs in a way that regular brushing and cleaning cannot. It removes plaque as well as dirt and debris, so that you are left with a whiter smile at the end of the process. For mothers who do have chronic gingivitis, these routine appointments are invaluable. The condition can lead to unsightly oral growths called ‘pregnancy tumours’ in and around the gums. These need to be safely removed by a dental specialist.   

Top Tips for Pregnant Patients

On top of keeping up with routine dental appointments, you also need to maintain a suitably thorough oral hygiene regime at home. This should be straightforward and simple to achieve. You need to brush twice a day, as per usual, and avoid consuming too many sugary snacks. The next section will offer you some handy hints and tips for taking care of your teeth throughout a pregnancy.

  1. Know Your Own Body

You should always be the first to know when it comes to dental health issues. If you stay vigilant, invest in your health, and listen to the signals that your body sends you, problems will be quick to identify and straightforward to treat. Be your best ambassador for oral health and pay close attention to changes occurring in and around your mouth. If you are concerned about a tooth or the state of your gums, ask your dentist for advice.

  1. Eat for the Sake of Your Baby

While your little bundle of joy will make their first appearance as a completely toothless (and likely squalling) whirlwind of noise and energy, this does not mean that there are no teeth present at this stage. In fact, the baby teeth start to develop around three months into a pregnancy. They then lie dormant until the baby has reached the age of four months. After this point, the baby teeth can start to emerge. The point is that you need to consume plenty of vitamins and minerals if you want your baby to have strong teeth.

  1. Use a Softer Toothbrush

For expectant mothers who are struggling with overly sensitive gums, a softer toothbrush is recommended. This will allow you to keep up with the regular brushing routine and maintain oral health, without also irritating the gum tissue any more than needed. Pick up a soft brush from your local pharmacy and combine with a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.  Wherever possible, avoid exposing your teeth to extreme changes in temperature (for example, rinsing with cold water after brushing).

  1. Steer Clear of Whitening Kits

You are strongly advised to avoid whitening and dental bleaching kits of all kinds. The vast majority contain peroxide and this can be very harmful for the unborn baby. While the precise impact of oxidation treatments is still unclear, most dentists and doctors are certain enough of the dangers to warn against them during pregnancy. The only real option for mothers who are desperate to whiten their teeth is patience. To be safe, you will simply have to wait until the baby has arrived before pursuing bleaching treatments.  

  1. Only Use X-Rays as a Last Resort

In some cases, a dentist will think it necessary to carry out a dental x-ray on a pregnant woman. However, this is quite rare because expectant mothers and their babies are very vulnerable to radiation. In fact, it should always be considered a last resort for pregnant patients. If, for example, a dental emergency has occurred, it may be suitable to schedule an x-ray procedure, in order to identify the damage as quickly as possible. A reliable dentist will never put the health of the mother or baby at risk unless they have no other alternative.

  1. Delay Brushing after Sickness

It is natural to want to run to the sink and scrub at your teeth after vomiting. However, all that this does is move stomach acid around the mouth and into places where it wasn’t before. For pregnant ladies struggling with morning sickness, the best approach is to delay brushing by around 40 minutes after vomiting. This will give the stomach acid a chance to settle and prevent you from, effectively, scrubbing your mouth with it. In the interim, drink plenty of water as a way to replenish lost fluids. Avoid sugary fruit juices because they will coat the surface of the teeth and contribute to plaque development.  

  1. Put Invasive Treatments on Hold

Pregnancy is one of the few legitimate excuses for not going ahead with extensive dental procedures. If you ask your dentist, they are likely to agree that root canals, extractions, and multiple fillings are all best left until after the baby is born. This does change, of course, if Flickr promises to cause more harm than going ahead with them. If you are unsure, consult with your dental specialist. Ultimately, they have the final word on the suitability of procedures anyway. This is why it is important to work with a dentist that you trust.  

  1. Add Interdental Brushing to Your Routine

To ward off plaque and the accumulation of nasty bacteria (much of which contributes directly to gingivitis), you can introduce an interdental brush into your regular routine. The ‘interdental brush’ is much like a standard toothbrush, but it has a much thinner head. Its pointed bristly head is ideal for inserting into the gaps between teeth and removing bits of dirt and debris. If you focus on keeping the gums clean, you should be able to prevent the onset of gingivitis.

Protecting Teeth through Thick and Thin

It is easy to forget the importance of good dental hygiene when you have an imminent delivery to think about. Of course it is. Yet, the reality is that plaque, bacteria, and gum disease do not discriminate. If you do not take care of your mouth and teeth, the outcome will be the same no matter how much you intended the opposite. So, make dental health a top priority not just for you, but for your new addition as well.

With all of the advice, help, and support available from dentists these days, nobody has to go through the process alone. If you are struggling with travel, access, time, or getting out of the house without being sick, don’t be tempted to simply let dental appointments slide. There are a number of different options on offer for pregnant patients, but if you want to get to know about them, you have to be bold enough to ask questions first.

And with the right dental health tips and strategies, you can give birth to a healthy child with a strong set of future teeth. This effectively sets up their dental development for life, because a solid and heathy foundation is likely to lead to fewer problems throughout infancy and later life. It is time to take control of your future(s) and make sure that a beautiful smile is just one of the things that you pass on to your baby.

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