Pregnancy-related dental problems are very common and should be handled with utmost care. Dental surgery may not always be feasible immediately in a pregnant women but there are various other measures that can be undertaken to minimize the extent of these dental problems. Common problems like tooth cavities may have started well before pregnancy but are accelerated due to the changes that occur in the body during pregnancy. Of greater concern are the gum diseases that arise in pregnancy. Several studies indicate that untreated periodontal disease in pregnant women may be a significant risk factors for preterm labor.
Causes of Pregnancy Dental Problems
There are several factors that contribute to gum disease. Some of these are unique to the changes that occur in the pregnant body. These causes include :
- Accumulation of dental plaque.
- Poor oral hygiene regimen.
- Pregnancy-related acid reflux.
- Vomiting with morning sickness.
- Suppressed maternal immune response.
- Increased sex hormone levels.
Gingivitis is a common condition where the gums become swollen and infected. The condition is more common in pregnancy and affects around 30% to 90% of all pregnant women. The condition is characterized by redness, swelling and increased tendency for the gum to bleed. Most frequently affected areas are the gums around the front teeth.
Pyogenic granulomas seen in pregnant women most commonly occur during the second or third month of pregnancy. The lesion is characterized by tumor-like lesions on the gum tissues which tends to bleed easily and may also become infected. These granilomas can ulcerate the gum and cause inflammation and pain.
The color of the lesion usually varies from purplish-red to a deep blue hue depending on the site of the lesion and amount of blood supply to the area. Pyogenic granuloma is almost always associated with poor oral hygiene practices and it more frequently occurs in the areas where debris accumulate.
Pregnancy Tooth Erosion
Another significant dental problem in pregnancy acid erosion of the teeth. Conditions like morning sickness with repeated vomiting and acid reflux which is worse during pregnancy are the main reasons for the erosion. Although the teeth are very hardy, the highly acidic stomach contents gradually erodes the enamel and the underlying tissue is not as resistant to the acid. Proper dental hygiene can minimize the damage to the teeth.
Most pregnancy-related dental problems can be effectively managed by a dental practitioner. Although many procedures should ideally not be carried out during pregnancy, if necessary it should be done in the second trimester. Medications to be used in pregnancy are also limited due to the potentially adverse effects on the fetus. Dental procedures should not be carried out during the first and the third trimester of pregnancy unless in certain circumstances.
Pregnant women take various precautions before and during pregnancy to ensure the health of the fetus. However, many women are unaware of the greater chance for dental problems in pregnancy and advised on the appropriate preventative measures that can be undertaken. It mainly revolves around good dental hygiene – brushing at least twice a day, flossing and using a mouth wash. Pregnant women should get appropriate advice on safe mouth rinses that can be used in pregnancy both from their dentist and gynecologist.