Pregnancy and Dental Health Myths and Truths
If you or someone you know is pregnant or undergoing fertility treatments here’s some valuable advice you may want to pass along: Don’t neglect your dental health. Recent research has found that maintaining oral hygiene can prevent many problems not only with a mother’s health, but also with a baby’s birth, including low birthweight and even pre-term delivery.
This is the opinion of public health professionals who have surveyed the health problems of newborns that can be caused by neglect of a mother’s dental and oral health. I have become keenly aware of this with the aid of a new addition to my practice, Dr. Alice Deutsch, a dentist who holds a master’s degree in public health and who focuses on treating pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant.
Traditionally, says Dr. Deutsch, mothers-to-be have been reluctant to attend to their dental and oral health for fear that diagnostic x-rays and dental procedures could harm their fetus.
The fact is, she says, untreated oral health problems such as periodontal disease and dental decay are now identified as risk factors for diabetes, dangerously high blood pressure, low birth weight and pre-term delivery.
Women need to be reassured that it is now safe to receive dental care, including digital x-rays and local anesthetics, during all phases of pregnancy. Today’s dentists are equipped to provide dental care as an essential component of prenatal care.
Pregnant women can follow some simple rules for preventing tooth decay from “morning sickness,” according to Dr. Deutsch. Rinsing with a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water will neutralize the stomach acids remaining in the mouth after regurgitation. Chewing sugarless gum containing xylitol after eating will reduce bacteria and clean teeth without leaving behind cavity-causing sugar.
For a free list of oral and dental health do’s and don’ts for mothers-to-be, or to receive a complimentary oral health consultation, women who are pregnant or in the planning stages may contact Dr. Alice Deutsch at (212) 697-1122, 515 Madison Ave., (East 53rd St.), Suite 1212, New York City 10022.