Paying a little extra attention to your oral health during pregnancy will help you avoid common dental problems and give your baby a healthy start in life. Pregnancy affects nearly every part of your body, including your teeth and gums. Luckily, following a good oral health regimen, visiting your dentist every six months, and keeping the following things in mind will help ensure that your smile stays bright and healthy during the next nine months.
Brushing and Flossing is More Important Than Ever
Plaque, a colorless, sticky, bacterial film constantly builds up on your teeth. The sugars in foods combine with plaque to create acids that attack your tooth enamel, causing cavities. When you indulge those cravings for sugary or high-carbohydrate foods, your cavity risk increases. Non-stop snacking raises the risk even higher. Brushing and flossing is a simple way to remove plaque from teeth and keep those acids from damaging your enamel.
If brushing your teeth makes you gag, you may be tempted to skip it. Unfortunately, if plaque is not removed from your teeth regularly, it can turn into tartar, a hard deposit that may increase your risk of developing gum disease. Failing to remove plaque can also increase your risk of tissue overgrowths called pregnancy tumors. Although the tumors are not cancerous, they can cause bleeding between your teeth and make you uncomfortable.
Morning Sickness Increases Your Tooth Decay Risk
Although brushing your teeth regularly is usually a good idea, brushing at the wrong time can increase your risk of cavities. After you vomit, your teeth are exposed to stomach acids that can destroy the enamel on your teeth. Brushing your teeth just after you have been sick spreads the acids throughout your mouth. Instead of brushing right away, rinse your mouth with a water and baking soda mixture after you experience a bout of morning sickness. The mixture neutralizes acids and helps you avoid cavities.
Gum Disease Is More Likely to Occur in Mothers-to-Be
Pregnant women are more likely to experience gum disease. The disease is preceded by gingivitis, a condition that causes your gums to swell, redden, and bleed easily. If gingivitis is not treated promptly, your gums can pull away from your teeth, forming bacteria-laden pockets. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth and bone loss and can even cause heart attacks and strokes if the bacteria travel to other parts of your body. Gum disease is particularly serious in pregnant women because it increases the risk of premature labor and low-birth-weight babies.
Dental Treatment is Safe During Pregnancy
In the past, dental treatment was not always recommended during pregnancy due to concerns that anesthetic could affect the fetus. Fear of possible problems related to anesthesia still causes some women to unnecessarily avoid visiting the dentist. According to a study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, receiving anesthetic causes no significant differences in birth weight, the rate of miscarriage, or gestational age at delivery.
It's perfectly safe to receive a filling, undergo root canal treatment, or have a tooth extracted during pregnancy. In fact, failing to get the care you need can cause dental infections that will increase your risk of preterm labor. Don't skip those regular dental visits during your pregnancy. Call us today to schedule a visit.
Journal of Pregnancy: Relationship Between Periodontal Disease and Preterm Birth, 10/03/11
American Dental Association: Is it Safe to Go to the Dentist During Pregnancy
WebMD: Dental Care and Pregnancy
RDH: Preventing Dental Erosion in the Pregnant Patient
The Journal of the American Dental Association: Pregnancy Outcome After In Utero Exposure to Local Anesthetics as Part of Dental Treatment, 08/15
Dentistry IQ: Treating a Pregnant Patient
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3 Healthy Oral Tips for Moms-to-Be
Caring for your teeth and gums is particularly important during your pregnancy. These three tips will help ensure that you enjoy good oral health.
Make Brushing More Comfortable
Hard-bristled brushes can irritate your gums and damage tooth enamel. Using a soft-bristled brush is particularly important when you are pregnant, as hormonal changes can increase gum sensitivity and bleeding. Mint-flavored toothpastes can sometimes trigger morning sickness. Look for blander flavors instead, or try toothpaste designed for kids.
Prevent Tooth Decay
Toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain fluoride strengthen your tooth enamel and reduce your cavity risk. Swap chewing gum sweetened with sugar with gum that contains xylitol instead. Xylitol doesn't create acids when it comes in contact with plaque and can even decrease the occurrence of plaque.
Choose Healthy Snacks
Eating nutritious snacks is not only better for you and your baby, but will also help you avoid cavities. Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts instead of sugary snacks, pretzels, crackers, and potato chips. Wash your snack down with water or milk instead of beverages high in sugar, such as soda or fruit juice.