15 Things Every Pregnant and New Mom Should Know about Dental Care
If you’re expecting, it’s important to take care of your oral health during pregnancy. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that can affect your teeth and gums and increase your risk of developing gum disease. Because your oral health can affect the health of your developing baby, it’s imperative to maintain good oral hygiene habits.
After your little bundle of joy joins the world, their oral health is in your hands. Follow these 15 easy tips to ensure a healthy, happy baby free from oral health issues.
1. Let your dentist and physician know that you’re pregnant
Don’t wait for an emergency to tell your health care providers you are pregnant. This information could change their treatment plan. If you’re pregnant, be sure to inform your dental office as soon as possible. Let them know how far along you are, any medications you are taking, and if your physician has given you any specific instructions during your pregnancy.
Depending on your situation, your dentist may recommend postponing your dental treatment until after you given birth. This includes elective cosmetic procedures, such as teeth whitening.
2. Avoid dental x-rays during pregnancy
During your pregnancy, it’s best to avoid dental x-rays. However, if you do need x-rays, your dentist will use extreme caution to safeguard you and your baby. A leaded apron will be placed over your stomach and a leaded collar will be placed over your thyroid to minimize radiation exposure.
Modern dental x-rays are extremely safe and only emit low levels of radiation. In fact, you would need to receive over 10,000 dental X-rays before exceeding the annual recommended safety limits.
3. Chew xylitol gum
Studies show that mothers who chew xylitol gum during pregnancy can reduce the incidents of tooth decay in their child by 70%. Xylitol improves the mouth’s pH level which makes it less likely to transfer bad bacteria to your loved ones. CariFree’s CTx2 Xylitol Gum is great for neutralizing decay-causing acids and reducing the risk of tooth decay.
4. Schedule more frequent checkups
Since pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase your risk for gum disease, be sure to show up to all your scheduled dental appointments. Expecting mothers are also at risk for a condition called “pregnancy gingivitis” which causes your gums to bleed easily when brushing or flossing. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease; symptoms include gum recession, inflamed gum tissues, and tooth loss. For these reasons, you should schedule more frequent cleanings during the last part of your pregnancy.
5. Practice great oral hygiene
Maintaining good oral hygiene habits can be easily forgotten due to morning sickness, fatigue, and dozens of other pregnancy factors. However, it’s important to brush and floss daily to prevent cavities and gum disease. Use a good-quality, soft-bristled toothbrush, and brush for at least 2 minutes to remove plaque. Poor oral hygiene during pregnancy has been linked to premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, and gestational diabetes.
6. Try using a different toothpaste to prevent gagging
If morning sickness is preventing you from brushing your teeth, try using a different toothpaste. You can try more pleasant flavors like grape or citrus if mint is too strong. You may have to try out a few different flavors before finding one that works.
7. Rinse your mouth with water or an alcohol-free mouth rinse if you suffer from morning sickness
If you are suffering from nausea and vomiting, the stomach acid can be harmful to your teeth and lead to acid erosion and tooth decay. Rinse your mouth with water or an alcohol-free mouth rinse to neutralize the acid after vomiting. We recommend the CTx3 Rinse which is formulated to neutralize decay-causing acids and protect against cavities.
8. Boost your calcium intake
Calcium is an important mineral which promotes strong teeth and bone development for your baby. You can find calcium in many dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. If you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, you can opt for other calcium-rich foods such as kale, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, tofu, and beans.
9. Cut down on snacking
Remember, the more frequently you snack, the greater your risks of developing tooth decay. This is because whenever you eat or drink, your oral bacteria breaks down the food and expels acid as a byproduct. This acid gradually wears down the tooth’s enamel and lead to decay. For this reason, it’s best to avoid snacking between meals. If you do snack, munch on something healthy, such as fresh veggies or fruit. If you need to keep your mouth busy, xylitol gum is a great alternative!
10. Eat for your baby’s teeth
Your baby begins to develop teeth around 12 weeks into pregnancy. Maintaining a well-balanced diet helps to ensure your baby develops strong teeth and bones. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, and dairy products. Limit high-sugar foods and drinks, such as candy, soda, and fruit juice. Lastly, drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
11. 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 proper care and medications during your pregnancy. Your dentist’s main concern is your and your child’s well-being so feel free to ask them any questions you may have.
12. Get your gums examined
If you experience any gum problems (including pregnancy gingivitis or a pregnancy tumor) during your pregnancy, see your dentist soon after delivery to have your gums examined. A “pregnancy tumor” refers to an overgrowth of gum tissue that may appear during pregnancy, usually during the second trimester. This overgrowth isn’t cancer but is just excess swelling of the gum tissues that make them appear puffy and bleed easily. The swelling often disappears after birth, but if you are worried, you can talk to your dentist about removing the excess tissue.
13. Be careful of bacteria transmission
Once you meet your little bundle of joy, remember vertical transmission is a real risk. Avoid ‘cleaning’ things like pacifiers, 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. Using CTx3 Rinse may be beneficial, as it is designed to specifically control oral environmental factors. It contains xylitol, fluoride and a unique elevated pH technology to neutralize acidic bacteria and maintain a healthy oral environment.
14. Start early
Babies are never too young to begin an oral health routine. Before their teeth erupt, it’s advisable to wash the baby’s gums with a soft cloth. Your baby’s first visit to the dentist should be by the age of one or when their first tooth erupts. Early dental visits help to create a positive association between your baby and the dentist.
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 that your baby finishes their nap time or bedtime bottle before putting them down. Limit their drinks to only formula, milk, and water.
Wondering if there’s anything else you can do to keep your baby’s smile cavity-free? Check out CariFree’s exclusive line of products to keep your mouth healthy during pregnancy. These include rinses, gels, and xylitol gum that are designed to neutralize decay-causing acids and keep your teeth cavity-free.