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    Dental management during pregnancy

It is ideal to consult a dentist if you're planning to become pregnant or suspect you're pregnant. Your dentist will examine you and map out a dental plan for the rest of your pregnancy.

The fourth to sixth months of pregnancy generally is the ideal time for any necessary non-emergency procedures. It's best to postpone non-emergency procedures during the first trimester to avoid anything that could affect the developing baby. The last trimester is often avoided because it can be uncomfortable for the patient to sit for extended periods.

Obstetricians should always be consulted during any emergency that requires anesthesia or medication. In general, aspirin and Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided. Only X-rays that are needed for emergencies should be taken during pregnancy and any elective procedure that can be postponed should be delayed until after the baby's birth. If X-rays are essential, leaded aprons may be provided by the dental office to be worn by the pregnant mother, to prevent radiation exposure to the developing baby.

Taking good care of yourself during pregnancy helps improve not only your own health but also the health of your baby. Remember that your baby’s teeth and jaws begin to form at 5-6 weeks of pregnancy. Dental problems lead to improper food intake, which in turn affects the nourishment of the baby. Gum diseases are proven to cause pre-term births as well as low-birth weights. Untreated dental disease will also eventually cause a permanent loss of teeth.

Daily brushing with a low-abrasive, fluoridated toothpaste (morning and night or ideally after every meal) using a soft-bristled brush, flossing in areas where the brush is unable to reach, a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and regular dental visits will keep your teeth and gums healthy during and after pregnancy. Limit intake of sugars, starches and other food items, which promote dental decay. Preventive topical fluoride application procedures may also have to be carried out by your dental surgeon in cases where predilection towards dental decay is found. Defective tooth-brushing techniques should be identified and corrected. Routinely have the bacterial plaque and tartar professionally removed from the teeth by your dentist.

In case of morning sickness, do not brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes after vomiting. Rinse with plain (tap) warm water after vomiting. Rinsing with a solution of sodium bicarbonate will also be helpful. Sodium bicarbonate neutralizes the acids and prevents the damage caused by residue on the teeth. Immediate brushing after vomiting will cause erosion of tooth surfaces, and hence, should be avoided.

To prevent gagging, use of a small-headed toothbrush might help. Alteration of the brushing timings (rinse in the morning with water and brush at lunch time or morning tea and at night) may also help prevent gagging. You may avoid using toothpaste if it is found beneficial as long as the gagging lasts.

A balanced diet should be had by the mother, which ensures good health for the mother as well as the developing baby. You may fix up your diet after discussing with your doctor. Your doctor may advise prenatal vitamins and mineral supplements also.

It's a myth that calcium is lost from the mother's teeth and "one tooth is lost with every pregnancy."

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