Why is preventive dentistry essential during pregnancy?

Did you know that less than 70% of women consult a dentist during pregnancy? Yet dental health is vital to the well-being of expectant mothers & their babies. Today, Laura Chiavazza, expert dental hygienist and mom, answers our questions and gives us valuable information to read, integrate and share as much as possible. As the saying goes "prevention is better than cure", prevention is fundamental. At MotherStories, it's a priority and at the heart of everything we do.

close-up of an open mouth at the dentist's.

Why is dental prevention so essential during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, physical transformations and lifestyle changes occur, potentially impacting oral health. To prevent any complications, it's essential to maintain good dental hygiene and make regular visits to the hygienist, thereby ensuring the health of both mother-to-be and baby.

What are the possible complications?
Bleeding gums, pain that can interfere with chewing, and abscesses due to untreated cavities. With the hormonal rollercoaster, beware of gingivitis, while nausea and reflux increase mouth acidity, favoring tooth erosion. You also need to watch out for the sugar present in certain medicines, which is often overlooked. 

Can pregnancy cause tooth loss?
Contrary to popular belief, pregnancy does not cause decalcification of the teeth. The calcium required for fetal development is drawn from the mother's bones, underscoring the importance of adequate calcium intake (1,200 mg/day) as recommended by health professionals. There's a saying that goes "one son, one tooth", because in the past, there wasn't as much information as today, and often women, due to hormonal changes and insufficient hygiene and prevention, developed periodontitis leading to tooth loss.

Why is gingivitis common during pregnancy?
This reversible inflammation of the gums is common during pregnancy (more than a third of women), due to increased vascularization and heightened sensitivity of the gums to irritation from plaque and hormones. Gingivitis often manifests itself as red, swollen and bleeding gums, usually appearing between the 2nd and 3rd months of pregnancy, and tends to resolve after childbirth. If left untreated, gingivitis can degenerate into periodontitis, a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the bone supporting the teeth, which can lead to their mobility or even loss.

How can you prevent it?
Good oral hygiene is essential, including regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and scaling twice a year. If symptoms of gingivitis appear, a visit to the hygienist is recommended for a thorough examination and appropriate advice on maintaining good oral health.

If left untreated, what is the risk?
The biggest risk is periodontitis. Over the past twenty years, research has examined the impact of periodontitis on pregnancy development and infant health. The condition has been identified as a potential risk factor for premature birth, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia and other gestational complications.

Can nausea during pregnancy be a problem for your teeth?
The acidity caused by vomiting can weaken tooth enamel. So don't brush your teeth immediately after vomiting. Simply rinse your mouth with water, avoiding acidic substances such as lemon.

What about dental treatment during pregnancy?
If cavities or infections occur, it's important to treat them promptly, as dental treatment is safe during pregnancy. Your dentist or dental hygienist can consult your doctor or midwife to plan treatment, but this is often not necessary. Local anaesthetics and some antibiotics are safe during pregnancy, but for all non-urgent treatments, it's best to wait until after delivery.

What about dental X-rays during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, dental X-rays can be taken for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Although the abdomen can be protected by a lead apron during these examinations, this does not provide any additional protection, as the fetus is outside the radiation exposure zone. Modern technology uses extremely low levels of radiation, well below thresholds that could be harmful to the fetus, making these X-rays totally safe during pregnancy.

Do you have any quick tips for dental care for our future Mothers?

  • Brush your teeth 2-3 times a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and, ideally, with a rotating electric toothbrush.
  • Use dental floss or an interdental brush daily to remove plaque from between teeth.
  • Mouthwash is not recommended on a daily basis, but in the event of infection or inflammation (but always on the advice of the dental hygienist).
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium, vitamins A, C, D, protein and phosphorus. Prenatal multivitamins can complement your diet.
  • Limit sugary foods and drinks, especially outside mealtimes.
  • Consult your dental hygienist and dentist regularly and inform them of your pregnancy.
  • Have at least two scaling sessions during pregnancy.
  • Never brush your teeth immediately after vomiting or eating, but wait at least 30 minutes.

What about baby's teeth?
To promote the healthy development of your baby's teeth and bones during pregnancy, it's essential to maintain a balanced diet rich in vitamin D and calcium. Although some serious health problems during pregnancy or childbirth can affect the baby's milk teeth, these incidents generally have no impact on the formation of permanent teeth.

For more information on oral health and hygiene, we invite you to contact Laura directly. She will be able to advise you, accompany you and, if necessary, refer you to a dentist.

Whitening Artists
Dental hygienists
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Le Studio Manor - Rue de la Louve 8, 1003 Lausanne
+41 (0) 78 238 27 70
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