Pregnancy & Teeth:
You have a lot to think about during pregnancy but staying on top of your dental needs is critical since pregnancy can take a toll on your teeth and gums. Make sure to tell your dentist that you are pregnant and about any changes you have noticed because if your mouth is healthy, it’s a good bet your baby’s mouth will be healthy too.
Being pregnant comes with many responsibilities—and oral hygiene is no exception. For most women, routine dental visits are safe during pregnancy, but let your dental office know what month you are in when you make your appointment. If yours is a high-risk pregnancy or you have some other medical condition, your dentist and your physician may recommend that treatment be postponed. Be sure to let your dentist know if there is any change in the medications you take or if you have received any special advice from your physician. The benefits of receiving dental care during pregnancy far outweigh potential risks. Be sure to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your mouth such as swelling, redness or bleeding.
Tips for maintaining a healthy mouth during pregnancy:
Floss between your teeth daily.
Eat a balanced diet. If you snack, do so in moderation.
Visit your dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and check-up.
If you need help controlling plaque, your dentist may recommend rinsing at night with an antimicrobial mouth rinse.
If you have morning sickness and are vomiting frequently, try rinsing with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water. If possible, avoid tooth brushing directly after vomiting when stomach acids repeatedly come into contact with teeth, the effects of erosion can eventually cause tooth enamel to wear away.
Your mouth can be affected by the hormonal changes you will experience during pregnancy. For example, some women develop a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” an inflammation of the gums that can cause swelling and tenderness. Your gums also may bleed a little when you brush or floss. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious forms of gum disease. Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings to prevent this.
Some drugs can be used during and after dental treatment to make you more comfortable. Inform your dentist of any prescription or over-the-counter drug you are taking. This will help your dentist determine what type of drug, if any, will be prescribed for you. Your dentist can consult with your physician to determine the drugs—such as painkillers or antibiotics—you may safely take during the pregnancy. Discuss any concerns with your dentist and physician. Both are concerned about you and your baby.
Be sure to talk with your dentist about how to properly secure and dispose of any unused, unwanted or expired medications, especially if there are any children in the household. Also, take the time to talk with your children about the dangers of using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.
It’s possible you’ll need an X-ray if you suffer a dental emergency or need a dental problem diagnosed. Although, radiation from dental X-rays is extremely low, your dentist or hygienist will cover you with a leaded apron that minimizes exposure to the abdomen. Your dental office will also cover your throat with a leaded thyroid collar to protect the thyroid from radiation.
In some women, overgrowths of tissue called “pregnancy tumors” appear on the gums, most often during the second trimester. These non-cancerous growths or swellings are usually found between the teeth and are believed to be related to excess plaque. They bleed easily and have a red, raw-looking raspberry-like appearance. They usually disappear after your baby is born, but if you are concerned, talk to your dentist about removing them. If you notice pregnancy tumors or any other changes in your mouth during pregnancy, see your dentist.
Now more than ever, it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet. That’s because what you eat during your pregnancy affects the development of your baby, including the teeth. A baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of the pregnancy. A sufficient quantity of nutrients—especially vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous—are needed. Making smart food choices now can help set your child up to be Mouth Healthy for Life.
What to Eat:
According to MyPlate, a website from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, an agency of U.S. Department of Agriculture, a balanced diet should include:
Fruits and vegetables. Combined these should be half of what you eat every day.
Grains. Make sure at least half of the grains you eat are whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice.
Dairy. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods.
Lean proteins. Make lean protein choices, such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish. Try to vary your protein choices to include eggs, beans, peas and legumes, too. Eat at least 8 oz. of seafood a week.
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, you should try to resist the urge to snack constantly. While it’s normal for pregnant woman to have the desire to eat more, frequent snacking can be an invitation to tooth decay. When you do snack, choose foods that are nutritious for you and your baby such as raw fruits and vegetables, yogurt, or cheese, and make sure to follow your physician’s advice regarding diet.