During Pregnancy

Oral health affects your baby…

Last month’s column told the facts about wisdom teeth. Now let’s take a step back as we begin a series of seven articles that deal with everything from dental with everything from dental prevention during pregnancy all the way though the invasion of hormones and the teenage years. Keep reading. I promise you will learn how to keep your teeth and your children’s teeth beautiful and healthy for years to come.

Precautions for expectant moms

A woman’s gum tissue changes during pregnancy. First-time mothers tell us, “I knew my body was going through major changes, but I didn’t realize my mouth was too!” During pregnancy, a surge of hormones (mainly estrogen), created an increase in the plaque build-up on the teeth.

The tissue in the lining of the uterus is almost identical to the tissue in the mouth. When one changes, so does the other. If the pregnancy plaque isn’t removed, it may cause a gum condition called “pregnancy gingivitis.

Infected gums can affect the fetus

The more infected your gums and teeth become, the greater the chances are that bacteria will travel through your bloodstream to your fetus. This causes an immune response that damages the tissues in the placenta and sometimes prompts premature labor and/or a lower birth-weight baby.

So a little investigating. Pull your lip down and inspect your mouth and gums for:

  • Puffy and red gums.
  • Tender and bleeding gums while brushing and flossing.
  • White, sticky plaque around the teeth and gums.

The best ways to care for your teeth

Your daily brushing routine is very important during your pregnancy, but some moms complain that brushing their teeth in the morning makes their “morning sickness” worse.

If that is the case for you, rinse your mouth with water or anti-plaque and fluoride mouthwash. Later in the morning, after the “morning sickness” passes, give your teeth a good brushing.

Here are some other tips for keeping your teeth healthy while you’re pregnant:

  • Keep teeth clean particularly around the gum line.
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste three times (or more) a day when possible.
  • Floss three times (or more) a day when possible.

Dental visits during pregnancy

As soon as you know that you are pregnant, visit your dentist for an overall evaluation of your teeth and gums and a good cleaning. At that time, the dentist or hygienist can give you special mouth care tips to use during your pregnancy. Continue regular dental visits throughout pregnancy.  Avoid any elective treatment during the fist three months of pregnancy.

X-rays are not recommended. If an emergency, be sure to wear the lead apron. If you have any questions concerning x-rays, consult immediately with your physician.

Sink your teeth into this

Most dental procedures can be done anytime during pregnancy, especially regularly scheduled hygiene appointments.  We can’t stress enough how important it is to keep teeth and gums clean. Consult your physician before having any dental procedures that require anesthesia or medication.

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