Pregnancy and Oral Health: 6 Things to Know
1.Oral Health Can Decline with Pregnancy: Yes, it’s true. During pregnancy, a surge in hormones estrogen and progesterone can negatively affect the way gum tissues react to plaque. Plaque can build up, become thicker, and become harder to remove, which can result in gingivitis. Characterized by puffy, red, and inflamed gums, this disease is highly uncomfortable and can create excess bacteria in the mouth. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease. To prevent this, mothers should practice extra thorough care of their teeth through brushing and flossing regularly, especially around the gum line.
2.Pregnancy Tumors Can Develop: These are non-cancerous inflammatory tumors that usually develop when the gums are especially irritated. While uncomfortable, these growths often go away after birth, but some can stay behind and may require removal by one’s dentist.
3.Low Baby Weight Could Be Linked to Gum Disease: Some new research suggests that there may be a link between gum disease and pre-term, low birthweight babies. The excessive bacteria present with gum disease can enter the bloodstream through the gums, and possibly infiltrate the uterus, potentially causing problems with the fetus. This research is inconclusive, however, making the best course of action to keep plaque down and teeth clean.
4.Plan to Visit the Dentist Before Becoming Pregnant: If planning to become pregnant, it is best to schedule an appointment with one’s dentist to discuss any concerns or possible problems that could arise, and possibly set up a cleaning. If this is not possible, visit the dentist early in the first trimester for a non-invasive checkup to ensure optimal oral health.
5.Have a Calcium-Rich Diet: Babies need calcium to grow strong teeth and bones, so take care of both mom and baby by adding calcium rich foods and supplements to her diet. Dairy products are the easiest way to get calcium that will strengthen teeth and provide strong bones for baby.
6.Be Wary of Morning Sickness: For mothers who vomit regularly during their pregnancy, oral health is especially important. The stomach acid following a bout of morning sickness can corrode teeth and cause them to decay. Take care by rinsing out the mouth following an episode and waiting at least 30 minutes before brushing in order to keep teeth strong. Strong teeth mean strong gums, which means a healthier pregnancy and baby.