Pregnancy and Oral Health
Pregnancy is characterized by profound hormonal changes and these can affect many sites in the body including the mouth.
The strategy during pregnancy is the maintenance of good oral health, reducing the risk of inflammatory diseases (gingivitis or periodontitis) which have been linked to low birth weight, and reduction in the risk of transmission of oral bacteria to the new born. To achieve this, excellent home care and regular dental visits are required.
Gingivitis (bleeding from the gum) is commonly associated with pregnancy with studies showing between 30% to 100% of patients are affected. Maintenance of good oral hygiene and professional cleaning will reduce bleeding episodes and more importantly lessen the risk of periodontitis developing (damage to the supporting structures around teeth).
Gagging can often occur whilst brushing the teeth; strategies such as focusing on breathing, not using or changing toothpaste, or use of salty water can be helpful.
A pregnancy epulis (localized swelling in the gum) can develop but often shrinks once pregnancy is over. This is a benign (non-cancerous) growth caused by inflammation in the gum and is generally left unless it affects the wellbeing of the mother (unsightly, pain, discomfort, effect on eating etc). A recommendation for its removal may be given but recurrences are likely.
For further information on dental xrays during pregnancy, see this link. “Section 6.2.4 of the NHMRC’s Code of Practice for Radiation Protection in Dentistry states ‘. . . dental radiography can be undertaken with negligible dose to the foetus at any time during pregnancy if proper collimation is used and the equipment is properly shielded. There is no need on radiation grounds to defer dental radiography during pregnancy.”