Pregnancy Pointers

Posted on February 4, 2013 in General oral health

pregFew things hold greater value than the birth of a healthy baby. Most pregnant women recognize how important their health is for their baby's health, but may ignore a critical component – their oral health.  

It's common knowledge that when a woman becomes pregnant there are drastic changes in her hormone levels. These changes can seriously affect a woman's dental hygiene. While having a healthy mouth is always important, pregnancy can intensify dental disease. Minor dental problems that exist before pregnancy could worsen. Oral infections can also present risks to an expectant mother's overall health, leading to other medical problems during pregnancy.

Most moms-to-be also experience cravings. The additional snacking can lead to increased tooth decay. Giving into cravings for sugary foods can be worse for expecting mothers' teeth, since sugar has been identified by oral health experts as major cause of tooth decay.

Two of the most dreaded words related to pregnancy – morning sickness – also contribute to tooth decay by exposing a woman's teeth to gastric acid. Expecting mothers with morning sickness should rinse their mouth out with water and baking soda solution after, and brush their teeth gently. They can also chew Xylitol gum.

It is the hormonal changes during pregnancy that contribute the most to “pregnancy gingivitis” (inflammation of gum tissue) because it can exaggerate the way gum tissue reacts to plaque.

Women who are pregnant should schedule a dental checkup and cleaning within the first trimester of their pregnancy. Dentists can identify and treat teeth and gum problems, lowering the risk for more serious, ongoing health problems for both a mother and her baby. Many Delta Dental of Illinois programs offer our Enhanced Benefits Program, which offers an additional cleaning for pregnant women.

Along with visiting the dentist, here are some other tips to help prevent oral health complications during pregnancy:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.
  • Limit foods containing sugar to mealtime only. If you do give into one of those cravings, drink a glass of water while snacking and brush your teeth once you're done.
  • Choose water or low-fat milk as a beverage and avoid carbonated beverages.
  • Choose fruit rather than fruit juice to meet the recommended daily fruit intake.

There are so many things to worry about while pregnant, don't let dental problems be one of them! If you have a healthy mouth during pregnancy, your baby will be more likely to have a healthy mouth as well.

So if for no other reason, see your dentist while pregnant and keep up those brushing and flossing routines so one day your child will have a beautiful smile!