Specialist Dental Group has launched an on-going series of blog posts by our individual dental specialists. All views provided are the dentist’s own opinions and are posted on this blog as part of our on-going efforts to educate the public about dental issues and other matters of interest relating to dentistry and healthcare.
The night my pregnancy test kit revealed two bold lines, my heart rate accelerated. I raced out from the restroom and exclaimed to my husband: “SG50 baby!” After all, our first-born toddler is almost two years old now, and the both of us have been hoping for another bundle of joy so that he can have a sibling for companionship. That night, we both swelled with joy and delight.
Subsequently, after all the exhilaration settled, I started to feel a sense of trepidation. Will I be able to cope with both kids in the initial few months? Will my son be affected negatively by the arrival of a younger sibling? How much sleep will I be getting this time? And more importantly, will I be able to regain my pre-pregnancy figure after having a second baby?
I dusted my bookshelf, picked up my books on pregnancy again, and tried to assuage my fears. I was soon reminded that while my fears and anxiety are very common and valid, they are not insurmountable. One thing for sure, children are a gift from God. Although there will be aches and pains during pregnancy and even after, I know eventually that this will be one perplexing yet amazing journey that my husband and I will come to enjoy again.
As we all know, a healthy lifestyle is important during pregnancy to ensure the health of the mother and the baby. Smoking is one habit that has many detrimental effects not only to the mother, but also to the developing fetus. It is one of the major causes for adverse outcomes such as stillbirths, premature delivery and low birth weight.
Taking care of one’s gum (periodontal) and oral health is equally important. Research studies have shown that pregnant women who have periodontal disease may have a higher chance of delivering preterm and low-birth-weight babies. Such babies may suffer from lifelong problems such as intellectual disabilities, delayed motor skills, breathing and respiratory problems, and visual and hearing loss.
On a less severe scale, some pregnant women may experience a greater tendency of bleeding, swollen and tender gums even if they have healthy gums. Hormonal changes during one’s pregnancy results in increased blood circulation to the gums, leading to increased gum sensitivity and exaggerated response to bacteria plaque. This is commonly known as pregnancy gingivitis which may set in during the second or third month of pregnancy and increase in severity until the eighth month.
It is therefore imperative for women who are either pregnant or trying to become pregnant to quit lighting up, and to maintain good periodontal health as part of a healthy pregnancy. It is recommended for their gums and teeth to be evaluated regularly and managed accordingly by a periodontist or dentist.
According to the clinical recommendations released by the American Academy of Periodontology and the European Federation of Periodontology in 2013, non-surgical periodontal treatment is safe for pregnant women and can help to improve periodontal health. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has also recently released a statement recommending regular dental cleanings during pregnancy in order to maintain good oral health.
I’m still experiencing bouts of nausea and am staying away from wines and sashimi, but pregnancy is a joyous experience and all mothers should stay healthy to ensure a happy, uncomplicated pregnancy and a healthy baby. To all mothers and mothers-to-be, do enjoy this marvelous journey!
Dr Daylene Leong is Dental Specialist in Periodontics with Specialist Dental Group®, Singapore. She received her training in the specialty area of Periodontology from the University of Michigan, USA. Dr Leong is a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. She has a special interest in periodontal regeneration and aesthetics, gingival plastic surgery and dental implants. For more information, visit www.specialistdentalgroup.com.