Multiple experts and studies have highlighted how pregnancy affects the teeth and the importance of moms prioritizing dental care. For one, pregnancy hormones greatly affect women’s teeth and gums. For another, dental problems can affect developing babies. Some studies found that severe gum disease has been associated with low birth weight and that a percentage of premature births have a link to their moms’ periodontal disease or severe gum infection.
There is a lot of evidence that dental management needs to be central during pregnancy, and here are some tips and ways expecting moms can care for their teeth before and after the pregnancy.
Inform your dentist that you’re pregnant.
The wisdom that your dentist can provide during your pregnancy cannot be overstated. They have a world of knowledge about dental and oral health that Google can’t provide for you. And more importantly, because they know your teeth’s condition personally, they can give you dental health advice that’s tailored specifically for your needs.
Visiting your orthodontist is also paramount since they can help you watch out for the potential of pregnancy gingivitis due to enhanced hormone levels. They can also warn you of increased pain after treatment or an adjustment of your braces. Working with dental professionals is always key to keeping your gums and teeth healthy during and after your pregnancy.
Mind how your morning sickness affects your oral health.
Repeated vomiting can cause serious harm to your teeth because vomit contains many stomach acids, which are destructive and powerful enough to destroy the enamel that protects and covers your teeth. If you suffer from morning sickness, here are some changes to consider:
- Brush your teeth thoroughly after you vomit. If the smell and taste of toothpaste are too much for you to bear, switch to bland-tasting toothpaste so that you don’t skip every time you throw up.
- Thoroughly rinse your mouth every time you throw up. You can use water, but you can also lookup bland-tasting mouthwash in your local drugstore.
Choose your food wisely.
While it’s easy to give in to all your pregnancy cravings, not all of them are the most beneficial to your dental health. Here are some tips for managing your cravings:
- Try to avoid incredibly sugary snacks, like chocolates and other candies. Sweet cravings are some of the most common during pregnancy, but keep in mind that the more you keep snacking on these sweets, the higher your chances of developing tooth decay. They might shoot up your blood sugar levels, too.
- Opt for a balanced and healthy diet. Three months into your pregnancy is when your baby develops their first teeth. To help accommodate this development, choose a diet that consists of dairy products like yogurt and cheese, which are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals for your baby’s developing bones, gums, and teeth.
- Increase your calcium and vitamin D intake. Aside from dairy foods, you can also increase your intake of dark and leafy green vegetables. For vitamin D, foods like fatty fish, canned tuna, and milk substitutes like oat, almond, soy, and coconut milk beverages.
Watch out for periodontal disease.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that seven out of ten pregnant women develop gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease. This is when the gums end up inflamed, causing them to be red and swollen. Studies say that this is because of constantly shifting hormones during pregnancy. Here are some tips to avoid gingivitis and, worse, periodontal disease:
- The first and most important step is to maintain good oral hygiene. If dental health is something you had never prioritized before you got pregnant, it’s not too late to start. Brush your teeth thoroughly at least two times a day, floss at least once a day, and choose a mouth rinse that has antimicrobial properties.
- Don’t miss your dental cleaning schedules. Have your teeth cleaned at least once every six months.
- Tell your primary care provider of the first sign of pregnancy gingivitis, like tender, swollen, or puffy gums and bad breath. Some other symptoms include bleeding, receding, and red gums. Your doctor will then be able to identify if you may need antibiotics, or in some cases, excision of the affected tissues.
- Whether pregnant or not, maintaining good oral hygiene is key. Keep up this routine even after you’ve given birth.
At the end of the day, much of the information you need can be provided to you by your doctor and dentist, especially regarding concerns that are specific to your health. So don’t neglect to include regular visits to the dentist and orthodontist as part of your prenatal care.