Oral hygiene in pregnancy

Many pregnant women complain of bleeding gums at various times during pregnancy. It is one of the common dental complaints and tends to cause fear and panic in many. In some cases, they get so worried they even report to us dentists with blood stained handkerchiefs to let you know how serious it is so you can “do something “. However, although it may  be scary, it is generally not so harmful a condition.

Pregnancy induced Gingivitis is usually due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. These changes cause the gums to become more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque as well as minor damages to the gums. As such they tend to bleed easily with minimal force e.g, chewing, brushing. The other thing too is that because the gums become a bit more easily bruised , some pregnant women find it a bit difficult to brush and clean and hence plaque accumulates on the teeth which further causes inflammation of the gums.

Sometimes, the bleeding may also be from a small reddish swelling on the  gum, a Pregnancy tumour, which tend to occur in areas where the gum is inflamed  and bleed easily.

Not to worry though because, generally, gum bleeding and gum disease can be easily prevented or controlled by doing simple things.

What to do?  Just simple; Practice good oral hygiene

Brush at least two times daily (morning and last thing before sleep) with a certified toothpaste and a soft/medium bristled toothbrush. Take your time , be gentle and do brush your tongue.

Use a certified mouthwash to help kill some of the bacteria especially in between the teeth where the brush cannot reach

Floss at least once daily to remove food particles and plaque in between the teeth where the brush cannot reach.

Good dietary Habits: Eat healthily, especially fruits and vegetables and reduce the intake of refined sugars and sticky foods eg. kelewele, sticky candies etc

Hydrate your mouth regularly to keep your mouth moist by liberal intake of water and rinsing

As first aid when the gum is inflammed and painful, warm salt solution does magic (half a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a drinking glass of warm water).You can hold mouthfuls of this solution for one minute at a time until the glass is finished and repeat it. It helps stop the bleeding, soothes the gum pain and reduce the gum pain and swelling.

And then, very important, see your dentist, even if you have never seen one before. The dentist will usually examine your mouth and if necessary  request some tests to rule out other possible causes. He may then do a professional cleaning of  your teeth regularly to remove hidden plaque and Calculus(tartar) that is firmly attached to the teeth and also treat any other condition that may be present.

For the pregnancy tumors, they are entirely harmless and usually disappear after the baby is born. However, in some cases, it may  make brushing or chewing  uncomfortable, or bleed excessively and so will have to be  removed while you’re pregnant. They may also be removed if they persist after delivery.

It is important to know that, If gum inflammation is not controlled, it can negatively affect  your baby’s health and in extreme cases, lead to premature birth so please practice good oral hygiene and please, please visit your dentist.

As always, keep smiling, it is good medicine, even in pregnancy !  See you at the Baby Shower :-)

Related articles: How to support new mothers to breastfeed their babies, Good nutrition for women especially before, during and after pregnancy

Last page review: 22/03/2016
Next page review: 22/03/2018

 

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