Last week, we had the pleasure of speaking with leading London dentist and founder of Dental Wellness Trust, Dr. Linda Greenwall. Not only is she an expert in her field with decades of experience, but she also works closely with communities to educate, empower, and teach underprivileged members of the public to look after their own oral health.
As a third generation dentist, Dr. Greenwall had dentistry running through her veins from the time she was born. After building a career as a dentist with her own practice in London, Dr. Greenwall decided to broaden her impact both in the UK and abroad. She explains, “I decided it was time to give back in dentistry when I had a birthday, which caused me to reflect on what’s important. I realised this is something I’ve always wanted to do, so I founded the trust and now we look after 15,000 kids.”
Since founding the trust, Dr. Greenwall has certainly racked up her share of success stories. With programmes helping thousands of kids in South Africa, the Phillippines, and beyond, Dental Wellness Trust most recently launched a campaign in the UK called Saving Kids’ Teeth. Dr. Greenwall felt compelled to launch the campaign, she says, “because, in the UK, 48,000 children go into hospital and under general anesthetic to have teeth removed each year. We want to change rather than accept this situation, so we set up a campaign to look at all the aspects that cause these problems.” Now, Dr. Greenwall and her team look after 2,000 children in the UK and teach young kids how to brush their teeth across London schools.
But oral health isn’t just for the little ones! If you’re expecting a baby, Dr. Greenwall has an important message for you, too. She stresses, “during pregnancy, there is inflammation of the gums from changes in the hormone prostaglandin. This can cause increased bleeding, and so proper oral hygiene is especially important. Really, the mouth is like a mirror for the whole body. By getting your mouth healthy you can get your whole body healthy.” And of course, a healthy mom means a healthier baby!
Whether your mouth is the picture of health or you’re looking to improve your oral hygiene routine, here are Dr. Greenwall’s top tips for properly managing your oral health during pregnancy:
- Visit your dentist. Dr. Greenwall recommends that you pop in and visit your dentist “as soon as you find out you’re pregnant”. She further notes that, with the help of your dentist, you can “learn the correct way to brush your teeth, making sure you’re cleaning between the teeth and on the gums,” which will help reduce bleeding caused by those pesky pregnancy hormones.
- See your hygienist more often. While many of us see our dental hygienists biannually, Dr. Greenwall suggests having your teeth cleaned every 3 months when you’re expecting. This will help prevent further gum swelling, possible gingivitis, and keep your mouth feeling squeaky-clean as you await the arrival of your little one.
- Manage those cravings. There’s no telling what you’ll crave during pregnancy, but common cravings tend to be higher in sugar, from cookies and cakes to mints and sweets. Dr. Greenwall says women should be mindful of their sugar intake during pregnancy, as this can contribute to gum swelling and tooth decay. And for those times when you do indulge in a sugary treat, just be sure to clean your teeth afterward.
- Balance your oral pH. If you’re like 85% of pregnant women, you’ve probably had an experience or two (or more…) with morning sickness. This can cause acidity buildup in the mouth, so Dr. Greenwall recommends, “if you are vomiting from morning sickness, you need to balance the acid in the mouth to prevent erosion. Eating something like cheese to balance the acidity and increase the pH in the mouth is essential”.
- Follow a healthy diet. Eating healthily while pregnant is important for so many reasons, but it’ll also help keep your oral health in top shape. Dr. Greenwall explains, “With ladies who are pregnant, the right nutrition is essential. Eating too much sugar affects not just the health of the mother but the health of the baby.” Plus, just like the rest of your body, your teeth, gums, and mouth need a good balance of vitamins and minerals to remain healthy and functioning properly. So load up on fresh fruits and veg, and keep sugary, processed foods in check.
By taking just a few extra moments each day, you can look after your mouth, and ultimately, your body and baby in what Dr. Greenwall calls the “oral health connection.” For more on Dr. Linda Greenwall’s incredible work, hop on over to Dental Wellness Trust’s website and check out all the amazing things they are doing.