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a doctor sitting in a chair with a pregnant person

Many pregnant women carefully manage their diet, environment, and routine.  However, these same women often fail to consider their dental health during pregnancy.  This lack of dental health awareness can create serious consequences. Dentistry and pregnancy go hand in hand. Pregnancy often creates changes that can lead to serious dental problems, placing the mother and baby at risk.

Dentistry and Pregnancy

The development of the child inside your womb makes visiting the dentist more important than ever! There are 10 important dental care tips you should keep in mind throughout your pregnancy.

1. Visit the Dentist

In fear of harming the baby, some pregnant women skip their routine visits to the dentist during pregnancy.  Unfortunately, this poor decision actually puts their little one at risk.  During pregnancy, hormonal changes and other side effects make women more susceptible to gum disease and cavities. The resulting infections can potentially affect the baby indirectly, and it often increases your risk of a miscarriage or premature birth.

For optimal dental health, it is important to visit your dentist prior to conception. This way you enter your pregnancy with a healthy mouth.  This is also ideal because if you require extensive dental treatment, then the dentist can address it before you become pregnant and not worry about how it may affect your baby.

Visit your dentist for a regular dental cleaning during the pregnancy as well. This will help ensure that your dental health will not trigger any additional health problems.

2. Watch for Gingivitis

Even if you make regular dental visits, it is still important to watch for any signs of gum disease during the long stretch between visits. Increased blood flow and hormonal changes can lead to pregnancy gingivitis.  With this disease, the germs that attack your gums can potentially enter the bloodstream and jeopardize your pregnancy. You can prevent this from occurring by watching for the early warning signs, including:

  • Sensitive gums and teeth that lead to difficulty chewing
  • Bleeding gums
  • Redness and swelling
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your dentist. Do not panic if you notice small amounts of pink blood while brushing (with no other symptoms). This often occurs when your blood volume increases.

3. Floss

Flossing reaches the surfaces of your teeth that the bristles from your toothbrush cannot. This prevents the buildup of plaque and harmful bacteria.  Flossing also prevents gum disease and tooth decay. You should floss at least once a day, but twice if possible.

4. Brush Regularly

Morning sickness may make you think twice about brushing. However, it is crucial to continue brushing twice a day. Your teeth face more risks during pregnancy than normal. It is a good idea to brush after your morning sickness passes. If you struggle with gagging or taste sensitivity, try using a children’s toothbrush and toothpaste with a lighter flavor.

5. Swish Baking Soda

During the first trimester of pregnancy, many women experience morning sickness. Though less common, some even experience this into their second trimester. Stimulated by significant hormone changes, morning sickness can cause frequent vomiting.  This vomiting brings stomach acid into your mouth, which is detrimental to your teeth. In fact, vomit can often lead to tooth decay, if not removed promptly.

In an effort to neutralize the acid, try swishing a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with warm water. You will find it helpful to do this a couple of times a day to help protect your teeth. The baking soda will also help eliminate that sour taste.

6. Limit Sugars

When you consume sugar, it often sticks to your teeth. Microscopic bacteria enter your mouth to eat the sugar and excrete acid in return. This is precisely how sugar destroys your teeth.

You should not try to eliminate carbs completely while pregnant. However, it is ideal to consume your daily dose in the form of whole grains, fruits, and other healthy carbohydrates.

Food cravings often make this challenging, but you can combat them with compromise. For example, you might crave potato chips for the saltiness and the crunch.  Instead, munch on kale chips, a healthier alternative for your teeth.  If you must eat sweets or extra carbs, rinse your mouth or brush your teeth immediately after consumption. It is important to remember that milk contains the sugar lactose, so follow the same process after drinking milk.

7. Control Your Pica

Some women experience extremely bizarre cravings during pregnancy. These are referred to as pica.  Women who experience pica may crave non-food items including:

  • Ice
  • Dirt
  • Glass
  • Laundry detergent
  • Sand

These items can often destroy your teeth and result in serious infections. Aside from harming your teeth, some of these items can cause toxicity for you and the baby.

If you experience cravings for any potentially harmful non-food items, contact your doctor. Not only can these items hurt you and your baby directly, but they can also lead to nutritional deficiencies.

8. Take Your Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins can help strengthen your dental health and the development of your baby. Your body requires more calcium while pregnant. A calcium deficiency can initiate decay within your teeth.  The daily consumption of prenatal vitamins that contain calcium, vitamin D, and other vitamins or minerals help keep your teeth strong throughout the pregnancy.

9. Don’t Refuse Imaging

If your dentist decides to take x-rays during your pregnancy, they have a good reason for it.  While it is obvious you should not expose your baby to excess radiation, it is also important to remember that the dental provider will use lead shields to protect your womb.  A one-time image does not significantly increase the risk of the baby experiencing any negative side effects. In fact, you put your child at more serious risk by not diagnosing something potentially serious.

10. Control the Plaque

Some women experience plaque buildup during pregnancy. Your dentist can provide you with a safe antimicrobial mouth rinse to help prevent this condition.  Rinsing once a day should keep the plaque away!

Show Your Baby a Healthy Smile

One of the first things your baby will see upon entering the world is your smile. Make your smile a healthy one by following these 10 tips on dentistry and pregnancy.

Enjoy your pregnancy, but don’t get so caught up in the excitement that you forget about your dental health.  Contact us to book an appointment today!