Looking after teeth is very important as oral health is paramount to general health and well-being
But for expectant mums it's especially important as growing evidence suggests a link between gum disease and premature, low-birth-weight babies.
Pregnant women who have gum disease may be more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. And, although oral health during pregnancy may be on the bottom of the list of health priorities, optimising dental health can make a significant impact on the wellbeing of both mum and baby.
Bacterial infections anywhere in the body during pregnancy pose a potential risk to both the mother and unborn baby. During pregnancy, hormonal changes can increase the risk of developing gum disease. Even small amounts of dental bacterial plaque can cause the gums to become inflamed and bleed easily. If that disease becomes severe, some pregnant women may be more likely to deliver a pre-term, low birth-weight baby.
Research in women with gum disease has shown that when oral bacteria enter the blood stream it causes inflammation and increased levels of the hormone prostaglandin. In the latter stages of pregnancy, increased levels of prostaglandin can trigger labour and could therefore increase the risk of having a premature birth.
Tooth brushing alone cannot remove the plaque from in between the teeth which is where most dental disease starts. Interdental cleaning can be achieved by using a plethora of oral hygiene aids but the easiest and most professionally recommended aid of choice is an interdental brush. Generally the spaces between the teeth at the front of the mouth are smaller than those at the back. You may need to use more that one size brush.
And don't forget your tongue which harbours millions of bacteria on its surface Ã¢Â€Â“ give it a gentle brush or clean with a tongue cleanser as part of your daily oral hygiene routine.
Your Dentist or Hygienist will be able to advise you about oral hygiene aids and cleaning techniques that are tailored to your needs. Seeking professional dental advice during pregnancy is really important as your oral health needs do change during this time. If you are registered as an NHS patient and have a current maternity exemption certificate you are entitled to free routine dental treatment until your baby's first birthday.
Optimal Oral Health Guide
Brush thoroughly twice a day with fluoride toothpaste on a soft Ã¢Â€Â“ medium bristled toothbrush. Clean between teeth daily to remove plaque from areas your toothbrush can't reach Cleanse the tongue daily Don't smoke or use tobacco Eat a balanced diet Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles begin to look worn Visit a dentist and establish the optimal frequency for attendance to maintain a healthy mouth.