Posted by Don Larkin on September 02, 2016
Pregnancy is a wonderful and anxious time for women and their families. It comes with unmitigated joy and intense anxiety. Any pregnant woman will be well aware of the fact that it is of crucial importance that she looks after her health during this time in her life. She is not only living for herself at this point, she is living for the life (or lives) that she is carrying in her womb. Routine health check-ups by primary care doctors and OBGYNs is the norm in sufficiently competent societies. In addition to overall physical heath, dental health should always be brought into the pregnancy health care mix.
This is a time where hormone production is at a fever pitch. Estrogen and Progesterone increase during pregnancy. These hormones are especially impactful to oral health. They cause changes to the way that a pregnant woman’s gums respond to exposure to plaque .
Plaque on teeth is more likely to turn into gingivitis when pregnant. As gingivitis progresses, it causes the gums to become inflamed and irritable. If this is left unaddressed, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis.
Additionally, pregnancy tumors may form in the mouth. These tumors are non-cancerous and usually pose no risk to the overall health of the expectant mother. However, in some cases the tumors may become so large that they interfere with chewing. If this is the case, then her dentist may decide to have the tumors surgically removed by an oral surgeon.
Nutrition is also of particular importance. In addition to the sudden cravings for very specific foods that many pregnant women report, there are vitamins and minerals that will be essential for satisfying the body’s need for nourishment. To support dental health, expecting mothers should be sure to get plenty of Vitamin C and Vitamin B12 into their systems.
Estrogen is one of the 2 primary pregnancy hormones. Estrogen levels go through the roof during pregnancy. Estrogen facilitates nutrient transfer to the unborn baby by prompting the placenta and the uterus to enhance vascularization. It also plays a vital role in the maturation of the fetus. The levels of this hormone in a woman’s body will continue to rise until the baby is delivered.
Progesterone increases remarkably during pregnancy. This hormone basically causes certain internal organs to enlarge so that they can assist in sustaining the baby throughout the entirety of the pregnancy. Progesterone causes the uterus to grow dramatically. Ligaments and joints are affected as well. They become less rigid; this can increase the likelihood of injuries such as ankle sprains.
This increase in progesterone can be problematic because it increases a woman’s sensitivity to bacterial plaque. As a result, many pregnant women are scheduled for additional dental cleanings during pregnancy.
Vitamin C and Dental Health
The importance of Vitamin C in maintaining optimal dental health is beyond reproach. Vitamin C boosts the human body’s natural defense mechanisms. This also applies to oral health. An appropriate Vitamin C intake will be of great assistance in preserving the health of gum tissue and allowing for a proper periodontal defense against bacterial invaders.
Vitamin C Supplementation for Pregnant Women
Vitamin C supplements are widely available in both brick-and-mortar retail outlets and online stores. Pregnant women are advised to take 85 milligrams of Vitamin C per day.
Foods that are rich in Vitamin C
Vitamin B12 and Dental Health
The connection between Vitamin B12 and gum health has only recently been discovered. Science does not know exactly how Vitamin B12 preserves gum health. Still, researchers have found that low levels of Vitamin B12 correspond with poor periodontal health without fail.
Vitamin B12 Supplementation for Pregnant Women
Vitamin B12 supplements are fairly ubiquitous in retail outlets that carry pharmacological products. Grocery stores, pharmacies and online merchants carry Vitamin B12 tablets. People that are allergic to Vitamin B12 should not take these supplements.
Vitamin B12 is very important for new mothers. Babies that are fed by mothers that are deficient in Vitamin B12 are at risk for serious physical and mental developmental disorders.
Pregnant women are advised to have a Vitamin B12 intake of 2.8 micrograms per day.
Foods that contain high concentrations of Vitamin B12
In addition to regularly scheduled dental cleanings, a pregnant woman should make it a priority to consult with her dentist as soon as she learns that she is pregnant. The dentist will examine the health of her teeth and develop an oral care initiative to move forward with.
The best time for dental treatment is from the fourth to the sixth month.
What dental treatments are sufficient during pregnancy?
Any non-invasive dental procedures are perfectly fine to undergo during pregnancy. If she requires more involved treatment due to pain or some other dental emergency, her obstetrician should be consulted as well. Naturally, it will be imperative to consider the health of the unborn child before entering into any process that will be invasive and/or involve the use of anesthesia.
An oral hygiene routine that consists of twice daily brushing (with a fluoride toothpaste), flossing and rinsing will be sufficient for at-home dental care.
Pregnancy is an exciting time in the life of a mother. Thanks to the miracles of modern science; pregnant women enjoy high rates of success in delivering healthy babies while preserving their own health as well. There is an old saying that was believed by many but has since been debunked – “Gain a child, lose a tooth". Fortunately, this is a myth. So long as a pregnant woman follows proper oral care guidelines and seeks the guidance of a dental health professional, the effects of her pregnancy on her dental health should be minimal (if not altogether negligible).
This was an interesting article for me to research and write about. In a way, it mirrors the experience that my family has had for the past 9 months. My wife is expecting any day now.