Pregnancy is a very special time in a woman’s life and care should be taken to make it as healthy as possible. If one is preparing for pregnancy or has already conceived, our goal is to provide a healthy disease free mouth, ensuring a healthy mother and baby.
If you are in the pregnancy planning stages, now is the time to visit your dentist. An oral check-up and a thorough cleaning is a must. Any cavities and X-rays that need to be taken should be done at this stage. No Silver Amalgam (Containing Mercury) are to be done. The “amalgam fillings” contain mercury, which could cause toxic effects; hence the removal is done either before pregnancy or after. Any teeth to be extracted or any impacted teeth like the ‘wisdom teeth–molars’ should be attended to at this stage. Mouth should be bought to ‘Free From Infection’ phase at this stage.
There is a belief that the teeth get harmed during pregnancy. This is not entirely true but the gums are more susceptible to infections during pregnancy. This is due to the increased hormone levels in a women’s body during the entire period of pregnancy. General belief that “Tooth for every child” is indeed a ‘MYTH’ and ‘NOT REALITY’. If expectant mother takes adequate nutrition, dietary counselling, antenatal visits together with vitamin supplements and maintains good oral hygiene with periodic oral prophylaxis by dental surgeon, she will not be susceptible to disease. Plaque accumulated on the teeth irritates the gums leading to swollen, bleeding gums. This condition is called gingivitis or gum disease. In a pregnant woman this gets exaggerated. A thorough cleaning is, hence, very important to keep your mouth plaque free.
Healthy Diet During Pregnancy
Dietary intake is very important for both dental and overall health. Sticky foods such as pastries, chocolates rich in carbohydrates and sugars promote plaque formation. This leads to bleeding gums. On the other hand, fibrous food such as raddish, carrot, etc. in the form of salads, and citrus fruits help in the control of plaque deposition cum adherence to tooth surfaces. So try snacking on healthy foods, which are rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C is very important for healthy gums. Calcium is important for building strong bones and healthy teeth. If the dietary calcium is not adequate during pregnancy, then the body takes this mineral from the calcium stored in the bones of the mother for the development of the baby’s teeth and bones.
Effect On The Child
Nutrition is vitally important to the unborn child and their teeth. The baby teeth develop between the 3rd and the 6th month of pregnancy—so you must receive enough of vitamin A, C, D, proteins, calcium and phosphorus. Your gynaecologist will give you supplements during pregnancy to fulfill all the requirements. More stress be laid on balanced dietary intake in lieu of vitamin supplements. Supplements of folic acid are a must as its deficiency has been strongly linked to cleft lip and palate formation.
Best Time for Treatment: Dental work done during pregnancy is safe if necessary precautions are followed. As recommended by the American Dental Association—treatment should be scheduled during the second trimester—from 4th to 6th month. By this time all major organs are formed in the baby. Elective treatment is to be avoided in the 1st and last 3 months. Only if absolutely necessary, should dental X-rays be done with a lead apron and thyroid collar on to prevent exposure to the baby. If it is necessary to use any drugs, then the dentist should get opinion from the gynaecologist to make sure there are no side effects.
An important thing to do after a baby is born is to breast feed the baby. Mother’s milk is beneficial for the baby. Mother’s milk is rich in antibodies which helps the baby to fight off bacteria & viruses. In addition to antibodies it also contains more that 200 known beneficial elements and many nutrients. Mother’s milk help to generate many elements which otherwise are difficult to manufacture. For example, it has been recently found that the fatty acid in Mother’s milk promotes the growth of baby’s brain and retina and also enhances cognitive development. This is vital in preventing dental problems later.
Main benefits of breast feeding are:
(a) Breast milk protects against infection.
(b) Breast-fed babies have fewer cavities, as there is no pooling of milk during breast feeding.
(c) In case of bottle-fed infants, there is pooling of milk and the chances of cavities are more. “BBTD” (Baby Bottle Tooth Decay) occurs due to continuous contact of the milk sugar with the teeth which increases the rate of tooth decay. So do not put babies to bed with a bottle containing milk, juice or anything sweet.
(d) Better development of the jaws, teeth and face as the baby has to use special muscles to suckle the breast as breast feeding requires active facial muscles unlike bottle feeding which is passive.
(e) With baby bottles child is generally overfed which may lead to lethargic and overweight babies.
• Planning for a healthy baby should begin before conception.
• Must have your mouth ‘Free From Infections’
• Good oral hygiene is very important during and after pregnancy.
• Mother must take a balanced diet.
• Dental work can be done in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy.
• Breast feeding is an important step towards ensuring a healthy child with fewer dental problems.
• Must avoid putting baby to bed with a bottle containing milk, juice or anything sweet, as it leads to decay of baby teeth