This is the first post in a 6 week series of posts about pregnancy, babies, children and oral health. Since I am currently 32 weeks pregnant with my second baby, I thought it’d be a good time to spread some dental awareness to our patients and our mommy friends! I’ll be posting on a new topic relating to the subject every Friday. Please come back!
Pregnancy & Oral Health
Congratulations! You’re pregnant! If you’ve never given your teeth a second thought, now of all times is the time to do it! With all of the changes going on in your body, your teeth and gums can be affected. Good dental hygiene during pregnancy is of the utmost importance.
You might find that along with all of the nausea, heartburn and other joys of pregnancy, your gums are also getting quite red and inflamed, maybe even bleeding a bit. This is a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis” and it can appear as early as the first trimester. According to the ADA, “An increase in hormones exaggerates the way gum tissues react to irritants in plaque. But it is the plaque, not hormone levels, that is the major cause of gum disease.” What that means is taking care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy and being sure to remove all plaque from the surfaces and in between the teeth will help this condition immensely. You should continue to brush your teeth two times a day and also floss once a day. Flossing is so important! The areas between the teeth where most bacteria reside can not be reached with toothbrush bristles. If this bacteria isn’t removed, it can irritate the gums further and eventually break down the enamel in the teeth and cause cavities.
Teeth aren’t the only area that plaque likes. They only account for 25% of the surface of your mouth. It’s also important to keep your tongue clean by brushing it or using a tongue scraper (I know it’s hard mama, anything in your mouth can make you gag but you can do it! Your breath will thank you!) and using an antiseptic mouth rinse.
If you aren’t already making regular dental visits, CALL NOW and make an appointment with your general dentist. A thorough dental cleaning by a dental hygienist will help keep plaque and tarter at bay.
Now let’s talk about that adorable little baby you are growing inside of you. Did you know that what you eat during pregnancy not only helps shape the future health of your unborn child, but you as well? It’s important to get all of the right vitamins and nutrients during pregnancy, especially calcium, vitamins B, C, and D, protein, and phosphorous. The baby’s teeth begin developing between the third and sixth month of pregnancy. That doesn’t mean that your baby will be born with teeth (although it has happened!), it means that they are already forming under their gums. The calcium that your baby needs for his developing teeth is provided by what you eat, and if there is not an adequate amount of calcium in your diet, your body will use the stores in your own bones to provide this mineral. So, you can see why it is incredibly important to take that prenatal vitamin or eat those calcium rich foods, not only for your baby but for you as well!
I often get questions from my pregnant friends about whether or not dental work can be done during pregnancy. Ultimately the decision is between your dentist and your obstetrician. If you provide your doctor’s information to your dentist, they can consult about what is acceptable for your dental treatment. Usually there is no problem and there are alternate forms of pain management that can be used during pregnancy.
If you have any questions about dental health and pregnancy, please don’t hesitate to call us or your general dentist and ask! We are glad to help.