Teeth Need Care During Pregnancy

CHICAGO, May 19 (UPI) — Pregnant women who are not treated for dental disease can have pain and infections, and expose their children to medications, U.S. dentists warn.

Article co-author Homa Amini said, in addition, poor oral health can affect the nutritional intake of pregnant women, which can hurt fetal growth and survival — yet only 22 percent to 34 percent of U.S. women see a dentist during pregnancy.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can create changes in the mouth and the most common is gingivitis, which has been reported in 30 percent to 100 percent of pregnancies, Amini said.

Gingivitis, plaque buildup that causes inflammation of the gums, can be treated with a professional cleaning and proper brushing and flossing, Amini said. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis — loss of the bone around the teeth — which, if left untreated, can lead to loss of teeth.

Dentists should monitor any dental erosion — the chemical destruction of tooth material — in pregnant women, due to acid in the mouth following morning sickness.

“To neutralize acid after vomiting, pregnant women should rinse the mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a cup of water,” Patricia Meredith, a spokeswoman for the Academy of General Dentistry, said in a statement. “The teeth should be brushed after the mouth has been rinsed and the acid has been neutralized to prevent further damage to the enamel.”

The findings are published in General Dentistry.

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