Pregnancy and Dental Health – Oral Hygiene Challenges

Pregnancy and oral health - a pregnant lady navigating oral hygiene challenges

Chapter 1: Introduction

Host Introduction (0:11 – 1:06)

Eon Engelbrecht introduces the OptiSmile podcast, Save Your Money, Save Your Teeth, setting the stage for a conversation with Dr Clifford Yudelman about pregnancy and dental health. Dr Clifford Yudelman welcomes listeners, emphasising the importance of oral health during pregnancy.

Chapter 2: The Impact of Pregnancy on Oral Health

Hormonal Changes and Plaque Build-Up (1:07 – 1:51)

Dr Yudelman explains the effects of increased oestrogen and progesterone levels on gum health, leading to plaque build-up and increased risk of dental decay.

Pregnancy Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease (1:52 – 2:54)

He explores how hormonal changes affect the body’s response to bacteria, often worsening existing gum disease and increasing the risk of preterm birth.

Chapter 3: Dental Procedures During Pregnancy

What to Avoid and What to Pursue (3:01 – 3:56)

Certain non-urgent treatments like teeth whitening and cosmetic dentistry should be avoided during pregnancy, while essential procedures to manage infections or relieve pain are safe.

Chapter 4: Managing Pregnancy-Related Oral Health Issues

Common Oral Lesions and Gum Changes (4:08 – 5:03)

A discussion of conditions like pregnancy tumours and pyogenic granuloma caused by hormonal changes.

Best Oral Hygiene Practices (5:10 – 6:04)

Dr Yudelman advises pregnant women to use alcohol-free mouthwash, soft-bristle toothbrushes, and fluoride toothpaste and adopt regular flossing.

Chapter 5: The Link Between Maternal and Infant Oral Health

Oral Health Effects on Babies (6:11 – 7:00)

The mother can transmit bacteria to her child, potentially leading to early childhood decay and low birth weight if her own oral health is poor.

Dietary Advice for Expectant Mothers (7:10 – 8:28)

A balanced diet is crucial for maternal and infant oral health, with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats playing essential roles.

Chapter 6: Dispelling Myths About Pregnancy and Dental Health

Calcium Misconceptions (8:43 – 10:02)

Dr Yudelman debunks the myth that the baby’s calcium needs are met by leaching from the mother’s teeth.

Safe Use of Dental X-rays

Dental X-rays are safe for pregnant women under appropriate guidelines.

Chapter 7: Early Detection and Prevention of Oral Health Issues

Warning Signs to Watch For (10:11 – 10:44)

Pregnant women should monitor for sudden tooth sensitivity, bleeding gums, and unusual oral growths, seeking prompt dental care when necessary.

Chapter 8: Post-Pregnancy Oral Health Care

Restoring Oral Health After Delivery (10:56 – 11:33)

A comprehensive post-pregnancy dental check-up ensures any lingering issues are treated, and normal oral hygiene practices are resumed.

Chapter 9: Conclusion

Episode Wrap-Up (11:34 – 11:54)

Eon Engelbrecht thanks Dr Yudelman for his expertise and previews the next episode on dental X-rays.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (0:11 – 0:49)

Welcome to Save Your Money, Save Your Teeth. This is the go-to podcast where curiosity meets dentistry straight from the experts. It’s Jan with you, and every week, I’ll be chatting with Dr Clifford Yudelman as we take a deep dive into the world of dental care from a consumer’s perspective. So, whether you’re looking to brighten that smile or protect your wallet, we have got you covered with practical advice and also the latest insights. So, stick around as we uncover the secrets to maintaining both your dental health and also your finances. Dr Yudelman, welcome back.

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (0:49 – 0:58)

Thanks, Eon. Thanks for getting back to me this week, and I look forward to talking to you about pregnancy and oral health today.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (0:59 – 1:06)

Yeah, and I mean, that’s quite a link there. I mean, how does pregnancy actually affect oral health, Dr Yudelman?

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (1:07 – 1:51)

So, one of the things that happen when someone is pregnant is that they get more oestrogen and progesterone, and they get more blood flow to the gums, which can make people more susceptible to plaque, and plaque will cause more swelling and bleeding. That’s the one thing. The other thing is morning sickness increases acid in the mouth, which can erode your enamel and make your teeth more vulnerable to decay.

And when a lady is pregnant, they should make sure they get a check-up. Any preventive measures can save money on restorative procedures after the pregnancy.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (1:52 – 1:57)

And what are pregnancy gingivitis and periodontal disease?

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (1:58 – 2:54)

So, the hormones actually change the way your body responds to the bacteria. In some patients, if they already have gum problems when they get pregnant, the change in hormones can cause gum disease to go under the gum a lot quicker, and it can complicate systemic health. We’ve mentioned in a previous podcast that this can lead to preterm birth, where the baby is born early.

There’s a link between gum disease and bleeding gums. So, gingivitis is bleeding gums, and periodontal disease is more advanced bleeding gums that actually affect the bone. And, you know, early diagnosis and treatment to manage the symptoms can be very effective and cost-effective compared to treating advanced periodontal disease.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (2:54 – 3:01)

So, I’m wondering, for the moms-to-be, any dental procedures that they should avoid during pregnancy?

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (3:01 – 3:56)

So, generally, we don’t recommend that we do teeth whitening if someone’s pregnant or breastfeeding. Other non-urgent treatments, such as any kind of cosmetic dentistry, can be delayed. If somebody has an emergency procedure where they have an infection, we can treat patients.

We will often speak to the gynaecologist or the obstetrician if there is a question. And there are certain times during the pregnancy when it’s better to have certain treatments. But one doesn’t need to suffer from severe pain.

Most types of treatments or procedures that control infection or relieve pain are safe during pregnancy. And waiting till after the pregnancy will just make it a lot worse.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (3:57 – 4:07)

Now, obviously, there are a lot of hormonal changes happening during pregnancy. What can the ladies do to mitigate these negative effects on them?

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (4:08 – 5:03)

So, yes, things like pregnancy tumours or something called a pyogenic granuloma. I’ve actually had patients that have come in with this. One patient was when I was practising in Perth, and she was pregnant with twins, and she had multiple of these pregnancy tumours, which is where the gums just proliferate, and they cause almost like a big, looks like a growth on the gum, and you just touch it, and it bleeds very easily.

There are other kinds of common pregnancy gum lesions caused by hormonal changes. Some people can get dry mouth or excessive saliva. So, using sugar-free gum or candies to stimulate saliva is a good thing and staying hydrated, having regular check-ups, and having good oral hygiene is very important.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (5:04 – 5:10)

And doctor, what would you say are the best oral hygiene practices for a pregnant woman?

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (5:10 – 6:04)

So, always use an alcohol-free mouthwash if you’re going to use a mouthwash. I wouldn’t recommend using mouthwash with alcohol, and a very soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. It’s quite safe to use fluoride toothpaste when you are pregnant, which will help to make sure that your gums don’t get too sensitive and also prevent tooth decay.

It’s also very important if one’s not a big flosser to actually make sure if you just found out you’re pregnant, it’s a good time to learn how to floss your teeth, go and get a good cleaning before your gums get swollen. You can use little interdental brushes or little brush picks as well, which will improve your gum health. Any kind of bleeding in your gums is not a good thing, especially when you’re pregnant.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (6:05 – 6:10)

So, obviously, the health of a mother’s teeth and gums can affect the baby.

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (6:11 – 7:00)

Yes, a lot of people don’t think about that, but the mother can actually transmit bacteria. And so, if a mother has a lot of cavities and they’re not treated and she has a baby, the baby catches the bacteria, which is similar to catching an infection and can lead to early childhood decay. And also, as we mentioned before, if you’ve got periodontal disease, you get preterm births and low birth weight babies.

And once again, getting a check-up and making sure that this is not going on in your own mouth, especially if you’re thinking of falling pregnant or, in some cases, if you’re having a hard time falling pregnant, maybe there’s inflammation in your mouth, and it’s a good thing to check it out.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (7:01 – 7:09)

So, doctor, do you have any dietary advice maybe for expecting mothers to promote good oral health?

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (7:10 – 8:28)

Yes, I would limit sugary snacks and acidic foods. We’ve spoken about that at some length before. A lot of people just think it’s a free-for-all-all.

When they’re pregnant, they’ll eat lots of those sour gummies, and their teeth will be very sensitive. They’ll blame it on the baby. They can get a lot of erosion.

If someone does have extreme morning sickness with a lot of vomiting or regurgitation of acid, it’s good to rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Don’t brush your teeth right away. Afterwards, make sure you’re using a fluoride toothpaste.

The dentist has something called Tooth Mousse, which is a calcium and phosphate sort of conditioner for your teeth that you can use if you have a lot of morning sickness. The cheese is very good. Hard cheese is very good, and other calcium-rich foods like milk and so on help support the mineralisation of the baby’s developing teeth. A balanced diet is very good.

Making sure you’re getting lots of vitamins A, C and D, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. These things are all very good for you when you’re pregnant and also good for your gums.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (8:29 – 8:42)

Doctor, can we maybe discuss the common myths about dental care during pregnancy? I know that there’s one, for example, that the calcium for the baby’s teeth is taken from the mother’s teeth. Is this correct?

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (8:43 – 10:02)

Yeah, I’m pleased you brought that up. That’s absolute nonsense. Once your teeth are fully formed and they’re in your mouth, there’s no way for the baby to take the calcium out of your teeth, the crown of your tooth that’s erupted.

There’s that myth that you lose a tooth for every child. That’s definitely not the case. If somebody doesn’t look after their teeth and they fall pregnant and they eat a lot of sweets and they do some of the things that we mentioned before, then they could lose a tooth, but it’s got nothing to do with the baby taking the calcium.

Another myth is dental x-rays when you’re pregnant are safe. If you have an emergency, the dentist can make sure that they use the very low radiation and just take a small x-ray. In fact, all x-rays are safe.

We tend to put them off if someone is pregnant and they don’t have any urgent needs, just more for psychological reasons. Definitely, one should continue your dental visits during pregnancy just to manage your health and any costs.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (10:04 – 10:09)

What signs of oral health issues should a pregnant woman be on the lookout for, doctor?

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (10:11 – 10:44)

If teeth suddenly start getting more and more sensitive or sudden pain in your teeth or if your gums are pulling away from your teeth, if you have persistent bleeding, if you get any unusual-looking oral lesions or sores or growths, these things can lead to more severe health issues. So, one should not delay going to see the dentist just because you’re pregnant. In fact, that’s a good time to go.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (10:45 – 10:55)

Finally, we will talk about post-pregnancy oral care. What should new mothers do to ensure their oral health is restored after giving birth?

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (10:56 – 11:33)

Definitely want to have a comprehensive dental check-up with x-rays, make sure that any cavities are filled, and any gum treatment that’s needed that wasn’t done when you were pregnant, or maybe you didn’t go when you were pregnant. Now’s the time to go. If your gums were bleeding during the pregnancy and your oral hygiene is good, your gums will definitely go back to normal once the hormones are normalised and resuming regular dental care routines, which will prevent future problems, is highly recommended.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (11:34 – 11:44)

And that wraps up today’s episode of Save Your Money, Save Your Teeth. Dr. Yudelman, thank you once again for your expertise and for your time.

[Dr Clifford Yudelman OptiSmile ] (11:44 – 11:54)

Thank you, and thanks for having me on. I look forward to speaking with you next week, during which we’ll talk about X-rays in more detail.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (11:54 – 12:23)

That’s going to be interesting. Also remember, while we strive to provide valuable insights, always consult with your own dental professional for advice tailored to your personal health. Also, don’t forget to subscribe for more enlightening discussions, and then you can join us again next week.

Same time, same place as we continue to explore the fascinating intersection of dental health and financial savvy. Until then, keep smiling and taking great care of your teeth.

[Eon Engelbrecht E-Radio-SA ] (12:37 – 13:22)

Discover the world of dental excellence with OptiSmile. Join us for a weekly podcast featuring Dr Clifford Yudelman, a seasoned expert with 40 years of dental experience across four continents. Gain unique insights and expert dental advice by visiting OptiSmile.co.za for articles that illuminate the path to optimal oral health. If you’re seeking unparalleled dental care in Cape Town, get in touch with OptiSmile or book directly online on OptiSmile.co.za. OptiSmile, where global expertise meets local care.

Disclaimer: The content provided in this podcast, “Save Your Money Save Your Teeth” on Medical Mondays, is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as dental or medical advice. The insights and opinions expressed by Dr. Clifford Yudelman and any guests are designed to foster a better understanding of dental health, preventive measures, and general well-being, but should not be interpreted as professional dental or medical recommendations.Dr. Clifford Yudelman does not diagnose, treat, or offer prevention strategies for any health conditions directly through this podcast. This platform is not a substitute for the personalized care and advice provided by a licensed dental or healthcare professional. We strongly encourage our listeners to consult with their own dental care providers to address individual dental health needs and concerns.The information shared here aims to empower listeners with knowledge about dental health but must not be used as a basis for making health-related decisions without professional guidance. Your dental care provider is the best source of advice about your dental and overall health. Please always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified health professionals regarding any questions or concerns about your dental health.

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Dr. Clifford Yudelman

Founder & Principal Dentist

As a globally recognised restorative and cosmetic dentistry expert, Clifford brings over 40 years of experience across four continents. A 1983 Bachelor of Dental Science graduate from the University of Witwatersrand, his career has spanned private practices in London, San Diego, Perth, and Cape Town. Currently the founder and principal dentist at OptiSmile, he is celebrated for transforming dental visits into positive experiences and fostering patient confidence through superior dental health, with a commitment to the latest dental technology for improved patient outcomes.

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