Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase your risk of developing gum disease, because your oral health can affect the health of your developing baby don’t forget these important tips about staying healthy! After your little bundle of joy joins the world their oral health is in your hands. Know the best ways to ensure a healthy, happy baby free from oral health issues.
1. Don’t wait for an emergency to tell your health care providers you are pregnant. This information could change their treatment plan.
2. Avoid oral x-rays during pregnancy. If you need x-rays your dentist will use extreme caution to safeguard you and your baby. Advances in dentistry have made x-rays much safer today than in past decades.
3. Chew xylitol gum. This study shows mothers that chew xylitol gum during pregnancy can reduce the incidents of tooth decay in their child by 70%. Ask your dentist which brand he or she recommends.
4. Because pregnancy causes hormonal changes that put you at increased risk for periodontal disease, make sure you show up to your scheduled appointments. You are also at risk for a condition called pregnancy gingivitis (tender gums that bleed easily). It is a smart idea to schedule more frequent cleanings during the last part of your pregnancy.
5. Make sure you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Use a good-quality, soft-bristled toothbrush. Use a toothpaste and brush for at least 2 minutes to remove plaque.
6. If morning sickness is keeping you from brushing your teeth, change the flavor of your toothpaste to one can tolerate. Ask your dentist or hygienist to recommend brands.
7. Rinse your mouth out with water or an alcohol-free mouth rinse if you suffer from morning sickness. The stomach acid can be harmful to your teeth and lead to acid erosion or cavitation.
8. Ask your dentist about the need for fluoride supplements. Since fluoride is found in water and almost all brands of toothpaste, fluoride supplementation may not be necessary.
9. Think about how often you are snacking. Remember the more in more frequently you snack, the greater the chance of developing tooth decay.
10. Eat for your baby’s teeth. Your baby begins to develop teeth around 12 weeks. Be mindful and make sure your diet includes healthy sources of calcium. Dairy products like cheese and yogurt are a good option.
11. Make sure to inform your dentist of all supplements, medications and instructions your doctor has given. This information is critical to ensure you and your baby are receiving the best care.
12. If you experienced any gum problems (including pregnancy gingivitis or a pregnancy tumor) during your pregnancy, see your dentist soon after delivery to have your entire mouth examined and your periodontal health evaluated.
13. Once you meet your little bundle of joy, remember vertical transmission is a real risk. Avoid ‘cleaning’ things like pacifiers and bottle nipples and utensils with your own mouth, and as hard as it may be, avoid kissing your baby on his/her lips. If you have the bacteria that contribute to decay, you can pass it directly to your baby.
14. Babies are never too young to begin an oral health routine. Before teeth erupt it is advisable to still wash the baby’s gums with a soft cloth.
15. Avoid bottle tooth decay. If your baby goes to bed with a bottle there is a higher risk of tooth decay. The carbohydrates and sugars in the liquid rest in the infant’s mouth and can lead to early decay. Be sure your baby finishes their nap time or bedtime bottle before putting them down.