Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pregnancy and Dental Care

A recent article from The Huffington Post reported that certain groups of pregnant women in the U.S. are not receiving appropriate dental care. This is alarming to say the least, since dental care is especially important during pregnancy. Furthermore, since we generally tend to presume that the United States has one of the best dental care establishments in the world, it's confusing as to why this particular demographic isn't getting the care they need.

According to the study, which pulled data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, more pregnant women over age 35 (86 percent) said their teeth were in good condition, compared to just 57 percent of pregnant women younger than 24. Researchers also found that young pregnant women were less likely than their peers who were not pregnant to report going to the dentist over the past year.

Even with top rated dental care in our country, younger pregnant women seem to be missing out. Why is this? According to researchers, the unsettling trend is likely due to so many younger pregnant women being in a low socioeconomic status.

Eugenio Beltran-Aguilar of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA and senior director at the Center for Scientific Strategies and Information for the American Dental Association told Reuters Health that these findings weren't exactly surprising, as minorities and those of low socioeconomic status tend to be at a higher risk of disease in general.

Beltran-Aguilar, his co-authors and many more healthcare professionals believe that prenatal visits could be used to check a woman's dental health and encourage them to take care of their teeth as part of an overall care plan. We agree. A person's dental health is strongly linked to their overall physical health, and during a woman's pregnancy, when certain risks are higher as well as certain nutritional needs, it is extremely important to maintain a routine of appropriate dental care.

Tips for Protecting Your Dental Health While Pregnant

1. Tell your dentist.

If you're pregnant, your dentist needs to know. Pregnant women are at a higher risk for periodontal (gum) disease due to increased levels of progesterone that occur during pregnancy. Even pregnant women who practice routine dental care at home are susceptible to gingivitis.

2. If you don't have a dentist, get one.

Ask friends, relatives or co-workers for recommendations on local dentists. If money or health insurance is a concern, you may be able to receive free or reduced cost dental care through a free clinic funded by your state or county government. You can find a free dental care clinic in your state by searching on this website: FreeDentalCare.US

3. Keep up with your regular dental care routine at home.

Now is definitely not the time to slack off in your dental care. Make sure you're brushing and flossing regularly, unless you are specifically told not to do so by your dentist. If you have any special dental conditions, be sure to go over them with your dentist and ask if your routine care should be altered due to the pregnancy.

4. Maintain a healthy diet.

As your primary care physician and OB/GYN will tell you, eating a balanced diet during pregnancy will help promote your health and well-being while providing your unborn baby with nutrients he or she needs. A balanced diet also helps promote dental health for you and your baby. Did you know that a baby's teeth begin to develop between the first 3-6 months of pregnancy? So make sure you're getting plenty of calcium, vitamin D, C, and A, phosphorous, and protein during these months.

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