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Oral Health and Pregnancy

A lot of patients ask if they have to take extra care of their oral health during pregnancy.

During pregnancy there is a rise in body hormone levels which can cause pronounced gingivitis. Gingivitis is a condition that results from un-removed plaque on your teeth which irritates the gums making them red and tender and bleeding easily.

Hormonal increases during pregnancy exaggerates the way that gum tissue react to irritants in the plaque. Even with this change you can keep your oral health in excellent condition by thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth daily and eating a nutritional balanced diet.

Also keeping your regular dental visits for cleaning and check up is advisable. If any pregnant patients need a dental treatment for any condition it is recommended to be done in the second trimester.

I also hear the question of whether is it true a tooth is lost for every pregnancy? And the answer is No. This is not true. Teeth lost during pregnancy are always due to severe cavities or gum disease that was neglected for a period of time.

Frequent dental check ups are recommended during pregnancy.

Importance of Regular Dental checkups

Regular dental exams are very important not only for good teeth but also for your general health. There are a wide variety of diseases where your dentist can find signs and symptoms by examining your mouth.

Some examples of systemic diseases with signs or symptoms in the oral cavity are syphilis, tuberculosis, measles, herpes, anemia and AIDS.

Other problems that a dentist checks for during a regular exam are physical or chemical irritants such as cheek biting, overgrowth of tissues, drugs or food burns, chewing tobacco lesions, radiation burns, infections of the jaw bone, fungal infections and tumors.

Regular check ups are recommended twice a year for patients with systemic diseases but if more check up visits are needed they should be determined by your dentist.

Why do I need a root canal?

A common question patients always ask is why do I need a root canal? It is a procedure to save and retain a tooth that has become infected or severely inflamed. In this procedure the nerve and the blood vessels of the tooth will be removed, but the tooth remains.

Root Canal Treatment is a successful procedure and, with a good anesthesia, it should be painless. After the treatment it brings a great relief from pain and infection. A root canal treated tooth will need a post and crown to maintain the tooth integrity and prevent future
fractures of the tooth.

Remaining tooth structure is an important factor to decide whether the tooth should be root canal treated or extracted. Your dentist will advice you at the time of the exam.

What filling materials are available today?

This is one of the questions I hear every day in my office. There is a wide variety of filling material available to all patients today. The one that is used regularly is called Amalgam but patients often call it silver filling. This material has served as excellent filling material for a long time and it is well documented in scientific journals. It is still the material of choice for
back teeth. Patients ask if the mercury in this material is a health hazard. I have reviewed a lot of research and evidence but there is no proof of health hazards with this material. In fact, dentists and their assistants generally have a higher exposure to mercury but they have a greater life expectancy and die from the same diseases as other folks do. Unless new and compelling evidence is presented to the contrary, dentists will continue to inform patients that this material is available and safe.

Other filling material available for patients to choose from include:
1) Composite which patients call a white filling,
2) Ceramics, which is also white but stronger than Composite and lasts longer and finally
3) Gold.

Discuss the factors that should be considered by your dentist in choosing the filling material you should have for your teeth and budget.
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Mostafa El-Sherif DMD MSCD PhD PC