You have so much to think about during pregnancy. From how you’re going to decorate the baby’s room to what you’re going to name the baby to all the diapers and bottles and bibs you’re going to need.
With all the things to think about during pregnancy, make sure to keep your health and well being on the list. And that includes your mouth. Brushing and flossing contributes to your overall health. Keeping your mouth healthy helps keep you healthy, and course, that helps keep your baby healthy.
Your Teeth: What to Expect When Pregnant
You’ll notice a lot of changes in your body when you become pregnant. This includes your mouth and teeth. Your hormone levels change, and those changing hormones can leave your mouth more vulnerable to bacteria and plaque, both of which create tender gums during pregnancy. It also puts you at greater risk for tooth decay. These changing hormone levels can also turn minor dental issues into major dental concerns. And just like everything else during pregnancy, what affects you affects your baby. That’s why good oral hygiene is so important. You want to do all you can to prevent gum disease because periodontal disease (the more advanced form of gum disease) during pregnancy can increase the risk of having a premature or low birthrate baby.
Pregnancy, however, does not automatically mean damage to your teeth or health problems. If you continue to have the good oral habits of brushing and flossing like you did before you were pregnant, simply carry them through during pregnancy and all should be well.
A few things you can expect from your teeth and mouth during pregnancy:
- Gum inflammation: This is more likely during the second trimester. You may see your gums swell and feel tender as well as bleed a little, especially during brushing and flossing.
- Undiagnosed periodontal disease: Although pregnancy does not cause periodontal disease, pregnancy can exacerbate this condition, which is caused by untreated gingivitis. You may experience swelling of the gums and notice that your gums bleed very easily.
- Pregnancy tumors: These overgrowths of tissue appear on the gums, most often during the second trimester. They are non-cancerous growths believed to be related to excess plaque. They bleed easily and have a raspberry-like appearance. They usually disappear after your baby is born.
If you have gum problems during pregnancy, make sure to see your dentist for pregnancy dental care, as well as after giving birth. Most types of dental problems caused by fluctuating hormone levels in pregnancy are resolved after birth. But if they aren’t, your dentist will want to treat them.
Plaque Build-Up During Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, you’re more susceptible to plaque build-up, which in turn can cause gum problems. Blame it on those hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone! Plaque build-up isn’t necessarily due to increased plaque in your mouth, but more so the fact that your body simply doesn’t fight plaque off as easily and quickly when you’re pregnant. That’s why it’s so important to have good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing regularly will keep the plaque at bay, but you may want to visit your dentist for a thorough cleaning. If the plaque isn’t removed, it can cause gingivitis. And if you already have gingivitis (and you may not know it because it doesn’t hurt), the condition will become worse when you’re pregnant. Your dental hygienist will be able to professionally remove plaque and help you set a plaque free foundation for the rest of your pregnancy.
Dental Hygiene During Pregnancy
The best dental hygiene practices for pregnancy are the same best dental hygiene practices for when you’re not pregnant. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily and visiting your dentist should already be a part of your lifestyle.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Increasing it to three times a day will help fight plaque even more. If your gums are swollen and tender due to pregnancy gingivitis, try switching to a softer toothbrush.
- Floss between your teeth daily.
- Visit your dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and check-up.
- Consider an antimicrobial mouth rinse to help combat plaque. Ask your dentist for recommendations.
- If you struggle with morning sickness and are vomiting, try rinsing your mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water. You can even try using baking soda as toothpaste, get the okay from your doctor first. Switching to blander toothpaste may help, too. Ask which brands your dentist recommends. Also, make sure to rinse your mouth out with water after each vomiting episode to rinse away the stomach acids that have come up into your mouth and made contact with your teeth.
- Eat a healthy diet for gums, which includes calcium, B12 and vitamin C.
Dental X-Rays During Pregnancy
No matter where you are in your pregnancy, tell your Dental Associate’s dentist. Not only will they help you with all your pregnancy dental care needs, they’ll also want to take some precautions during your care. For example, they may want to postpone any dental treatment where they may need to use anesthesia. And although there is no real need to postpone x-rays (radiation from dental x-rays is extremely low), they may do so if that would make you more comfortable. If you need an x-ray because of a dental emergency or need a dental problem diagnosed, they will take all the precautions necessary to protect you and your developing child. You will be covered by a leaded apron and thyroid collar to protect your abdomen and thyroid, as well as the rest of your body.
The Importance of Flossing During Pregnancy
If you are one of the many pregnant women whose gums get a little swollen, are tender and bleed during pregnancy, don’t ignore it. Keep brushing and flossing regularly. Flossing consistently will help strengthen the gums and decrease your chance of having your pregnancy gingivitis get worse and advance into periodontal disease. Whether you use traditional floss, a disposable flosser or an electric flosser, just make sure to floss. That little piece of string can make all the difference in the health of your mouth before, during and after pregnancy!
The Importance of Seeing Your Dentist During Pregnancy
You go to the doctor for prenatal checkups. It’s also a good idea to visit your dentist for prenatal dental care. When you visit your dentist for pregnancy dental care, it will be more about prevention and maintenance than it will be about treatment. Your dentist will check your mouth and teeth to make sure they remain healthy during pregnancy. He or she will also be able to help if you have pregnancy gingivitis, are getting too much plaque buildup on your teeth, or if your teeth are being affected by morning sickness vomiting or lack of vitamins. Just make sure to tell your dental team you’re pregnant, how far along you are, and if you’re noticing any problems with your mouth or gums. Visiting your dentist is important as an expectant mom. And you can be sure your Dental Associates dentist will help keep your mouth healthy during your entire pregnancy, and beyond.
A Healthy Diet During Pregnancy: Good for Your Teeth and Baby’s!
Eating right is important for your overall well being whether you’re pregnant or not. But it’s vital to your health and your baby’s health while you’re pregnant. It’s also good for your teeth and your baby’s teeth. Yes. Your baby’s teeth. Your baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth month of pregnancy. That’s why eating right and making smart food choices while you’re pregnant can make an impact on your baby’s developing teeth.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products and dairy products like milk, cheese, cottage cheese and unsweetened yogurt.
- Eat fewer foods high in sugar, like candy and cookies and avoid drinks high in sugar like juice or soda.
- Choose snack foods low in sugar such as fruits, vegetables, cheese and unsweetened yogurt.
- Drink plenty of water, especially between meals and snacks. And try and make it fluoridated water, or if you prefer bottled water, drink water that contains fluoride.
And when it comes to those cravings, too much indulgence of the sugary kind can increase your risk of tooth decay. Try low-sugar snacks instead, or try some fresh fruit. And make sure to rinse your mouth out with water or brush your teeth after satisfying that craving. Remember, you’re eating for two now. Two people and two sets of teeth. So eat what’s best to help both you and your baby smile!
Get Started Today!
If you’re pregnant and would like a consultation with one of our dentists, visit our Locations page to find our dental clinic near you. Call the clinic of your choice and tell them you’re interested in an examination with a dentist. Or, Request an Appointment here.
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