Pregnancy and Dental Care: 15 Things You Should Know

Dental care during pregnancy is an important part of your pregnancy health care plan! Your oral health can affect the health of your developing baby, and pregnancy-related hormone changes increase your risk of developing gum disease. Maximize your pregnancy dental care routine to help keep yourself in top shape and set up your baby for a lifetime of good oral health with these 15 tips.

  1. Keep all your dental appointments during your pregnancy. Dental care and cleanings can be done safely during your pregnancy and are beneficial to your overall health and pregnancy health.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for breaks and move regularly during dental procedures to keep yourself comfortable, particularly if you are in the third trimester. The extra pressure of your growing abdomen may make it more comfortable to shift your weight slightly to the side and move frequently.
  3. 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.
  4. Keep up your homecare routine! 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 toothpaste and brush for at least 2 minutes to remove plaque.
  5. 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.
  6. After bouts of morning sickness, rinse your mouth out with water or an alcohol-free mouth rinse. The stomach acid can be harmful to your teeth and lead to acid erosion or cavitation.
  7. Think about how often you are snacking during your pregnancy. Remember the more frequently you snack, the greater the chance of developing tooth decay. If you need frequent snacks, you need frequent dental care.
  8. Eat for tooth health. Your baby begins to develop teeth around 6 weeks, and all the minerals needed to grow those teeth come from you. Be mindful and make sure your diet includes healthy sources of calcium. Dairy products like cheese and yogurt are a good option, as are almonds, beans and lentils.
  9. 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.
  10. Don’t wait for an emergency to tell your health care providers you are pregnant. This information could change their treatment plan.
  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. 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.
  13. In most cases, you can postpone dental x-rays until after pregnancy. If they are absolutely necessary, your dentist will take extra care to safeguard you and your baby. Advances in dental technology have made x-rays much safer than in past decades.
  14. Your baby’s teeth start developing around week 6 of your pregnancy, and some antibiotics used to treat gum infections (tetracycline and doxycycline) interfere with normal tooth development. Discuss all treatment options carefully if you need antibiotics while pregnant.
  15. 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. Self-care for new moms is vital and benefits both mom and baby.

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