Even the most financially comfortable among us occasionally forgets our regularly scheduled check-up with the dentist or tends to delay a visit for needs that at the time appear to be more urgent than our oral health.
But for those scraping by every day for basic necessities, dental care can seem like more of a luxury and a hassle.
Of course, oral health is an essential component or our overall health, and visits to the dentist are important for a variety of reasons. That is why 420 health centers across the country are sharing in funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to improve overall oral health.
Each of these public and private nonprofit health care centers that receive funding from the DHHS serve lower-income populations with fees adjusted based on the patients’ ability to pay. For some families, that may make a difference between getting dental checkups and cleanings, or another year of ignoring problems that could lead to greater health concerns down the road.
Oral care is not just a matter of dental cleaning; it is a chance to be screened for gum disease, early signs of oral cancer, and getting a jump on cavities before they turn into larger problems. It is also a way to avoid losing teeth.
Oral health issues have a heightened risk of occurring during pregnancy, so being aware and on top of these is crucial,” said Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dental Plans Association’s vice president of dental science and policy. Oral issues can cause problems in other areas of our bodies as well – that’s why it’s so important to stay healthy and regularly visit our dentists.
In 2015, 57.5 percent of mothers in the United States reported they visited the dentist during their pregnancy, according to a Delta Dental Plans Association survey. The 2016 survey results show that number has now increased to 63 percent.
Two of the top issues appearing specifically during pregnancy:
“Pregnancy gingivitis” (increased bleeding and tenderness of the gums) may affect women during pregnancy due to increased hormones.
Great oral hygiene helps prevent this from occurring. To help prevent a build-up of plaque, brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss at least daily, paying special attention to cleaning along and just below the gum line.
“Pregnancy tumors” are somewhat rare, red growths of gum tissue that can form on the gums between the teeth as a result of excess plaque, usually during the second trimester of pregnancy.
Although they may bleed when irritated, these are benign and harmless, and usually subside on their own after the baby is born.
Delta Dental Plans Association reminds women that they can receive routine or emergency dental care during pregnancy with a few tips:
Try to avoid routine dental care during the first trimester and later part of the third trimester.
If a dental emergency arises, be sure to let your dentist know that you are pregnant. He or she will know what precautions need to be taken to resolve your dental problem.
If you need cavities filled or other necessary procedures, the second trimester is the best time. Elective procedures like tooth whitening or other cosmetic work should be delayed until after the baby is delivered.
“This is an exciting time during the lives of expectant mothers and we’re reminding them that making a routine trip to the dentist is one step that shouldn’t be skipped,” added Kohn. Doing so blesses the mom and baby alike.