ADA SA launches education program for mothers

Thinking of her teeth.
Thinking of her teeth.

Midnight cravings and the nasty effects of morning sickness are putting South Australia’s mothers-to-be at risk of sharing a toothless smile with their newborns. The South Australian branch of the Australian Dental Association (ADASA) has launched a campaign to educate pregnant women on good dental health practices.

According to the ADASA, changes to diet and nausea can cause havoc on an expecting mother’s dental health as well as the future health of her child.

“Acidic and sugary food and drinks, which are often craved during pregnancy and eaten at inappropriate times can drastically increase a mother’s risk of tooth decay,” ADASA Spokesperson, Dr Angelo Papageorgiou, said.

“While morning sickness is incredibly unpleasant, regular vomiting and reflux also causes teeth to be in contact with very strong stomach acids, which can lead to dental erosion.

“Due to increased levels of hormones during pregnancy, gums can become incredibly sensitive to bacterial irritation and inflammation, which can cause redness, bleeding, swelling, infection, permanent damage and tooth loss.

“What’s even more alarming are the possible links between gum infection and premature birth, low weight babies and pregnancy diabetes.”

Dr Papageorgiou said it was essential for expecting mothers to visit the dentist as soon as their pregnancy had been confirmed and regularly throughout their pregnancy to ensure that their teeth and gums are healthy and to seek any required treatment.

“Regular visits to the dentist and maintaining good oral health during pregnancy might be the last thing on your mind as you deal with food cravings and morning sickness,” he said.

“However, it should be one of the most important aspects of any mother’s health routine in the lead up to the birth of a baby.

“If you experience cravings and only sweet foods will satisfy you, try to choose healthier options such as fruit and yoghurt, consume your snacks close to mealtimes and brush your teeth after each meal.

“If you are nauseous, rinsing your mouth out with water after vomiting can help to minimise the risk of erosion and decay. Because stomach acids can soften tooth enamel, it’s best to wait an hour before you brush your teeth otherwise you can cause further damage.”

Dr Papageorgiou said good oral health during pregnancy could reward mothers and their children with many years of smiles.

“It’s important to have good oral l health practices in place so that once the baby is born, they can be passed onto the child,” he said.

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  1. One of the most important things about which to educate young mothers and which is often neglected, is the role that vertical transmission plays in causing caries in infants. If more mothers were aware of this then they would be much more highly motivated to look after their dental health.


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