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Oral Health-before, during and after pregnancy

If gum health is neglected during pregnancy and even after delivery, it can cause such severe problems.

When I was doing my post-graduation in Periodontology (gum specialist), I had a patient in first trimester of pregnancy with severe gum infection. All the invasive dental treatments are contraindicated in first and third trimester. So I had to give her antibiotics and pain killers. Most of these medicines are harmful for the baby so I had to be very careful in prescribing safest medicines for her. I had a tough time maintaining her gum health for the next 7 months with these limited options. If those medicines did not work and infection kept coming back, how much the patient was going to suffer?

Oral problems during Pregnancy

Untreated oral infections can create lots of complications. Most commonly seen dental problems during pregnancy are bleeding gums, pain, swelling, and pus (abscess). Untreated gum infection has been linked to preterm labor and low birth weight babies in a report by World Dental Federation in 2015. During my doctoral research on gum infection and adverse pregnancy outcomes, we checked more than 9000 women for gum infection and none of them were aware that oral infections can complicate their pregnancies. Even for my own pregnancies and deliveries, I realized that my Gynecologist was very much concerned about my nutrition, iron and other supplements, HIV and other tests for any infection in the body etc. but never told me to get a dental consultation done.

Dental treatment after delivery? Think again.

In today’s world of increasing infertility and IVF conceptions, when all the precautions are taken to take the pregnancy to the full term, oral conditions often go undiagnosed.

If my pregnant friends are thinking that somehow they will go through the pregnancy and get the dental treatments after delivery, then you are making a mistake. Few months after child birth are so exhaustive, physically and emotionally that dental treatment is the last thing on your mind. So three crucial questions:

1. What should the expectant mother do to avoid dental problems?

If you are planning for a baby, get your dental check-up and treatments done before you conceive. The hormonal changes during pregnancy make it very difficult to control dental conditions during pregnancy. Take simple preventive oral care measures like oil pulling.

2. If Dental problems occur during pregnancy, how do we manage them?

In case you develop dental problem during the pregnancy, take the dental treatment in second trimester after taking approval from your gynecologist. Do not neglect pain and infection for 9 months. Your psychological health is equally important as physical. If you are constantly in pain or getting bleeding gums and infections, it doesn’t make your pregnancy experience pleasant.

3. What are the alternatives to antibiotics and painkillers during pregnancy?

If you cannot be prescribed certain medicines, there are Ayurveda options available, which are safe during pregnancy and will take you comfortably through the delivery till the time that you are able to undergo dental treatments in a dental clinic.

If you have any more questions on this topic, please feel free to write to us for free e-mail consultation.

Dr. Vaibhavi Joshipura

Periodontist (Gum Specialist) MDS, Periodontics/Periodontology, PhD. Periodontics/Periodontology