An Expectant Mother’s Guide to Good Oral Health and a Healthy Pregnancy
Moms all over the world know that pregnancy is a roller-coaster journey. On one hand, there is the sweet bundle of joy to look forward to after nine months; but on the other, the physical toll that pregnancy takes on the body—constant nausea, bodily changes, and hormonal effects—can be difficult to deal with, whether you’re a new mom or you’re adding to a growing family. Pregnant women are advised to take extra care of their bodies and overall health.
But did you know that aside from eating a healthy diet (despite the pregnancy cravings) and being careful to avoid accidents or getting sick, pregnant moms are also advised to pay extra attention to their oral health? That’s right, oral hygiene is even more important while pregnant, here’s why:
Common Oral Health Issues During Pregnancy
A lot of expectant mothers don’t know that their oral health is put at much higher risk when they are pregnant. Several oral health problems can occur during pregnancy, including:
Pregnancy Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Gingivitis, a minor form of gum disease, is caused by a buildup of bacteria and plaque along the gum line. This causes inflammation and, in some cases, bleeding in the gums. However, the risk for gingivitis is greater in pregnancy, as women exhibit an increased inflammatory response during this time, particularly during the third trimester.
Dentists may advise rinsing the mouth using warm water mixed with a cup of salt to ease the irritation. If you have experienced gingivitis before, there is a higher chance of recurrence during pregnancy. It’s important to let your dentist know about this, so they can treat the condition before it worsens. Untreated gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, which can then destroy the teeth and gums. The key to avoiding pregnancy gingivitis and periodontitis starts with maintaining good oral hygiene to avoid bacteria and plaque buildup.
Benign Oral Lesions
Benign lesions can develop on the gums as a result of the body’s increased inflammatory response during pregnancy. While it’s rare for a dentist to excise these lesions, it can be necessary if you experience severe pain and abnormal bleeding.
Loosened Teeth and Tooth Erosion
Some pregnant women experience loosening teeth as the ligaments and bones that support the teeth can temporarily loosen during this period. With good oral hygiene as a foundation for oral health, tooth mobility should be temporary and not result in the loss of teeth.
In addition to tooth mobility, the enamel of the teeth can easily erode due to exposure from gastric acid caused by vomiting and morning sickness. This can also be caused by gastric reflux during the later trimesters. Rinsing with water and a teaspoon of baking soda may help balance the acidity.
Another common occurrence during pregnancy is the presence of dental caries. This is caused by the increased acidity in the mouth as a result of common pregnancy cravings, such as sugary snacks. The best way to avoid dental caries is maintaining proper oral hygiene habits, particularly regular brushing and flossing.
Oral Health Tips for Expectant Moms
As an expectant mother, it’s important to look after your health both for your own well-being and your baby’s. After all, your baby gets their nutrients and strength from you, so it’s important to pay extra attention to your eating, drinking, lifestyle, and oral hygiene habits. Here’s how you can maintain excellent oral hygiene throughout pregnancy:
Manage Food Cravings and Morning Sickness
As your body changes throughout pregnancy, so do your eating and drinking habits. A lot of expectant moms experience food cravings, which are often followed by bouts of nausea and vomiting. Episodes of morning sickness are exhausting enough on their own but keep in mind their effect on your oral health.
Morning sickness is known to expose teeth to acid and erode the enamel. As well, the food cravings and constant vomiting put you at higher risk of tooth decay due to the sheer volume of food morsels that pass through the mouth and can get stuck between teeth. To avoid cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene habits. This means rinsing your mouth immediately after vomiting, as well as brushing and flossing regularly, especially after meals.
Eat Healthy for Two
When you’re pregnant, you’re not just eating for yourself. That’s why it’s important to strike a balance between indulging food cravings and maintaining a healthy diet.
Foods rich in protein, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and D are essential in keeping your teeth strong and healthy throughout pregnancy, while supporting the development of your baby’s teeth and bones as well. Calcium is especially important as it remineralizes tooth enamel, which may have eroded due to acidity.
On the flip side, make sure to avoid foods high in sugar and carbohydrates as they are most likely to cause plaque buildup leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
No Drugs, Drinking, and Smoking
It’s no secret that substance abuse leads to pregnancy complications and birth defects. But for oral health in particular, recreational drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use can affect the development of your baby’s teeth, as well as put both of you at risk of oral diseases – not to mention a slew of other serious health issues!
Expecting? Visit your dentist!
The moment you find out that you’re expecting, it’s important to plan ahead for the next nine months—and that includes booking an appointment to see your dentist. Dentists recommend scheduling a checkup and cleaning during the first trimester, as this allows you to better manage your oral health throughout the pregnancy, as well as get expert tips for maintaining good oral hygiene. It’s essential to let your dentist know if you are pregnant, especially if you have a history of oral health issues, so they don’t recur and affect your baby.
Dawson Dental proudly supports the oral health of expectant mothers through specialized treatments and expert dental care. Book your appointment at 1-877-308-8105 or contact us here.