Taking Care of Your Teeth During Pregnancy
Congratulations Mom-to-be! You’re on one of the most exciting journeys of your life, and it’s critical now more than ever that you begin to take care of yourself in ways that nurture both you and your growing baby. Have you given thought to your or teeth health and how it will impact your pregnancy? Being pregnant brings with it additional responsibilities—-and taking care of your teeth is no exception.
Most women can continue undergoing dental examinations and treatments throughout pregnancy, while others are considered “high-risk”, and must follow doctor’s instructions accordingly to provide safety and security for both mother and baby.
Benefits outweigh the risks for your teeth
Any dental benefits that you receive from taking proper care of your teeth will far outweigh any risks. The health of your mouth is inextricably linked to the health of the rest of your body; infections that start in the mouth can spread to the rest of your body, including your growing child.
It is essential that you take proper care of your gums and teeth to ensure that both you and your baby remain healthy for the duration of your pregnancy and beyond. Here are some simple care steps you can follow to ensure optimal health for both of you:
Tell your dentist you are expecting
In many cases, routine dental examinations can be done while pregnant. Other more invasive procedures should be delayed until after delivery, if possible, as this places both you and your baby at greater risk of infection and complications. Talk to your obstetrician to see if you have any special considerations when undergoing dental care during your pregnancy.
Divulge medication information to dental care provider
Your dentist will need a complete list of the vitamins, supplements, and medications you may be taking during your pregnancy in order to formulate the best treatment plan for you. If changes need to be made to your dental care plan, your dentist will alter your plan to continue to provide the safest care for both you and your baby.
Proceed on X-rays with caution
As dental x-rays are typically only done once per year, you may be able to go your entire pregnancy without having to take them. However, letting your dentist know about your pregnancy will allow him/her to take extra caution when performing them, if needed.
Your dentist will shield your abdomen and thyroid during any x-rays and continue to monitor your teeth and gums for signs of abnormalities and decay. Advances in radiation technology make dental x-rays much safer today than in the past; rest assured that your dentist will take every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of you and your baby.
Don’t skip your checkups!
Now more than ever, you need to stay on top of your oral health. Pregnancy brings with it a host of hormonal changes that make you more susceptible to the development of periodontal disease and inflammation of the gums. Pay particularly close attention to the health of your gums at this time; if you notice any changes in swelling, bleeding, or discomfort, seek your dentist’s advice on treatment as soon as possible.
Practice good oral hygiene at home
Regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with dentist-approved mouth rinse at least twice daily will help to remove harmful food particles and bacteria from your mouth that can lead to the formation of plaque and decay. Keeping teeth clean at home will result in easier visits to the dentist as well; make a commitment to both yourself and your baby to keep your mouth healthy.
Rinse your mouth after bouts of morning sickness
If you find yourself vomiting and suffering from bouts of morning sickness, do your best to eliminate excess acid in the mouth by rinsing your mouth gently afterward. Many women find it helpful to quell nausea with a slice or two of fresh ginger under the tongue; it is soothing to your stomach and won’t cause any additional tooth or gum degeneration.
Avoid sugary, sticky, or acidic foods
Keeping teeth free from excess sugar and acid is the best prevention against the formation of plaque and tartar buildup. Once this buildup process has begun, the only way to completely remove it and eliminate the possibility of decay is by visiting your dentist for a professional cleaning. Do what you can to alter your diet to eliminate some of these harmful foods during your pregnancy; your baby and your mouth will thank you.
Eat a healthy diet!
Believe it or not, your dietary consumption has an effect on the nutritional preferences that your baby is developing at this time. Baby’s first tooth starts developing in the mouth as early as twelve weeks gestation; eating a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, fresh, unprocessed foods, and high-quality protein will help your baby’s teeth and bones develop in strength and fortitude. Satisfy the urge for a craving once in a while, but for the most part remain on the straight and narrow with your dietary choices, and you and baby will benefit from it long term.
Setting up long term habits for success
Don’t think of the habits that you are establishing as temporary; you are setting up a lifetime of excellent dental health for you and for your baby. You are in for some exciting times ahead, and you both deserve optimal health as you prepare to welcome your little one into this world. Embrace the opportunity to model exceptional self-care and enjoy your beautiful baby!