Maintaining good oral health is an important, yet sometimes a neglected component of a healthy pregnancy. Getting regular professional dental care, practicing good oral hygiene along with eating a healthy diet will help in avoiding potential oral and overall health problems for both you and your baby.
During your first trimester (first 3 months) of your pregnancy, you should schedule a dental checkup and cleaning appointment (especially if you haven’t visited in the last 9 to 12 months). Dental care during pregnancy is safe and your dentist will work with you to develop the best care plan to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Common Dental Problems
Potential oral health conditions that can occur during the pregnancy period include:
- Pregnancy Gingivitis – Increased hormonal levels in the body during pregnancy can amplify inflammation to the gums resulting from greater sensitivity to plaque and bacteria. The redness, bleeding, and general swelling of the gum tissues, especially when brushing and flossing, are symptomatic of this mild gum disease. Pregnancy gingivitis, if left untreated however, can lead to more serious periodontal diseases which can risk the health of both you and your baby. Practicing proper oral hygiene on a daily basis is the best preventative measure to avoid pregnancy gingivitis.
- Tooth Erosion – Protective hard outer layer tooth enamel can be worn away after contacting strong acids in the stomach when vomiting, experiencing heartburn or acid refluxation during pregnancy. Over time, erosion of the teeth can lead to further tooth decay problems along with increased tooth sensitivity pain. Taking measures to limit and neutralize stomach acid exposure, practicing good oral care hygiene, along with smart nutritional choices can help to reduce the risk of tooth erosion during pregnancy.
- Tooth Decay – Pregnancy does not directly cause tooth decay however, the change in both diet and frequency of eating which will likely occur, can increase the risk the likelihood of tooth decay. When sticky acidic film called plaque builds up on your teeth as a byproduct of bacteria feeding off of the sugars in the foods you eat, they can over time slowly eat away at protective tooth enamel creating tooth decay. Similar to preventing tooth erosion, the risk of tooth decay can be reduced by continuing good oral care practices and by making wise dietary choices while pregnant.
For good oral health, especially during pregnancy, it is essential to continue to practice these hygiene practices:
- Brush teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and floss once per day.
- Consider using an alcohol-free antimicrobial mouth rinse to fight plaque buildup.
- If gums are swollen and tender due to gingivitis, try switching to a softer toothbrush to avoid further irritation.
- If you are suffering the effects of morning sickness, such as vomiting, avoid immediately brushing your teeth and instead rinse your mouth using a mixture of one teaspoon of baking soda per cup of water. The solution will help to prevent tooth erosion due to stomach acid exposure.
Eating wisely is always important for your oral and overall health, doubly so for your baby during pregnancy. The following nutritional advice can help to prevent potential oral and general health issues:
- Eat a healthy balanced diet including nutrient rich fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products and mineral rich dairy products like milk, cheese, and unsweetened yogurt. Additionally, chicken, meat, eggs, nuts, and beans are also smart choices.
- Avoid foods rich in sugar and refined sweets such as candies, cakes, and cookies. Drink less or avoiding altogether sugary beverages like pop (soda), juices, and juice flavored liquids.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly during the course of the day.
- Eat foods rich in beneficial folate or folic acids such as lentils, dried beans, peas, leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and fortified grain products.Oral health is intertwined with overall health, with good dental hygiene and habits during pregnancy you will not only prevent problems from developing you will also positively affect the health of your baby. Therefore, it is recommended that you continue seeing your dentist during your pregnancy for oral examinations and professional cleaning. Inform your dentist of any medications or supplements you are currently taking and of any changes which you may have noticed in your oral health. Additionally, talk with your dentist and physician if you have any questions or concerns regarding your treatment.
Questions? Call our office at 740/452-3697 to learn more — or to schedule your next check-up.