Dental experts have said the phrase “Gain a child, lose a tooth” is an old wives tale which does not necessarily need to be true for women who take their oral health seriously during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a life-changing experience that affects nearly every aspect of a woman’s life, including her oral health.
Although many women can go through the nine months with no dental discomfort, for some, pregnancy can sprout old dental issues or create new ones.
A series of educational tweet by the Nigerian Dental Association (NDA) on its twitter handle @nigdental said that pregnancy does not automatically damage the teeth.
The tweets enlighten women that most pregnancy-related oral problems come up because people tend to place oral health very low on the scale of worries during pregnancy and leave it unattended.
It said chances are that a pregnant woman will have one or two problems with oral health is and that feeds the myth that pregnancy makes people lose a tooth.
The association, however, said a regular checkup and good dental habits can help keep the mother and baby healthy.
It also added that a woman can have dental problems if her intake of calcium is inadequate during pregnancy- her bone, not her teeth – will provide the calcium her growing baby needs.
According to the tweet, some of the changes that can occur include:
1. Pregnancy Gingivitis: This occurs mostly within month two to eight of pregnancies. Some women notice their gums look swollen, red and bleed easily especially when brushing. Symptoms include swollen gums, tender, puffy gums, bleeding gums, receding gums, red gums, bad breath among others. This is usually caused by increased hormone levels which sometimes favours bacterial growth. Pregnancy Gingivitis is usually common in the front of the mouth and sometimes painful and makes brushing difficult.
Also, the immune system may function differently during pregnancy and this may affect the way your body reacts to the bacteria causing Gingivitis.
2. Pregnancy Granuloma: This is a growth on the gums that can occur in up to 10 per cent of pregnant women. They usually develop in the second trimester, can bleed easily and form an ulcer which becomes painful on eating or cleaning the mouth.
3. ‘Tooth Erosion’: We all know that the stomach contains very strong acids, for some women, morning sickness is a major symptom of pregnancy and this is usually characterised by vomiting.
When this happens, the teeth are usually coated with strong acids that can dissolve the enamel
There’s always a bitter taste left in the mouth and some women are tempted to brush immediately.
This should be avoided as the grinding of the toothbrush against the softened enamel causes it to wear off faster. Instead, rinse with water and wait about an hour before brushing.
4. Sugar Craving: Pregnancy causes a surge in food cravings for many women. This makes them eat at odd hours and forget to brush their teeth. Hence, there’s more sugar present in the mouth for bacteria to act upon.
5. Dry Mouth: A dry mouth increases susceptibility to tooth decay and other oral infections.
Pregnant women should drink frequent sips of water and chewing sugar-free gum to stay hydrated and keep the mouth moist. This also helps to reduce nausea associated with pregnancy.
Despite all these dental issues, there is no cause for alarm as proper hygiene and professional help from your dentist and can assist to keep the teeth healthy throughout pregnancy.