Oral health is especially important during pregnancy. Your teeth and gums are more susceptible to infection, and your dental problems can affect your baby, both before and after birth. So below you’ll find a list of the five most important things for pregnant women to remember when it comes to oral health.
1. Follow good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing is always important, but especially so when you’re pregnant. Hormonal changes make it easier for certain types of oral bacteria to take hold, and issues that arise during pregnancy can stay with you and your child for years. Many pregnant women experience pregnancy gingivitis as a result of hormonal changes: red, swollen gums caused by outbreaks of oral bacteria. In severe cases, this infection can even spread to the bloodstream, affecting the fetus and inducing premature birth.
2. Get regular cleanings and checkups. Your dentist can help spot issues that might cause a problem for you or your baby, so it’s very important to go for regular cleanings when you’re pregnant. Make sure to tell your dentist about your pregnancy and also describe any medications or supplements you’re taking.
3. Deal with dental problems now. If you’ve been putting off having a cavity filled or handling some other dental issue, now’s the time to get in touch with your dentist. Since pregnancy increases your susceptibility to oral health problems, any lingering issues are likely to get worse over the course of your pregnancy. There are also possible health consequences for your baby if issues are left untreated. Certain types of dental procedures are best performed at specific times during your pregnancy, so get in touch with your dentist to make a plan.
4. Eat a balanced diet. Now that you’re pregnant, you’re probably having all sorts of crazy food cravings, but do try to avoid eating too many sugary and acidic foods. These can weaken your tooth enamel and encourage bacterial growth. Pregnancy hormones already make you more susceptible to oral infection and all the health complications that go along with it—you don’t want to add fuel to the fire. Also, make sure you get lots of calcium. Your baby’s teeth need it for proper development. Some of the best sources are dairy and leafy greens like spinach or kale.
5. Don’t brush right after morning sickness. If morning sickness is causing you to throw up, rinse with water and baking soda before you brush your teeth. The acids from your stomach are very powerful and can weaken your tooth enamel; brushing right after throwing up adds insult to injury by damaging that weakened enamel. It’s best to neutralize the acid with baking soda first, then wash out your mouth with water, and finally brush your teeth.
If you have other questions about pregnancy and oral health, be sure to let us know!
- British Dental Journal. (2017). Free resources on oral health during pregnancy.
- Vamos, C.A. et al. (2015). “Oral health promotion interventions during pregnancy: a systematic review.” Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.
- Zhong, C. et al. (2015). “Oral Health Knowledge of Pregnant Women on Pregnancy Gingivitis and Children’s Oral Health.” Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry.