The Importance of Dental Health During Pregnancy - What You Need to Know

With periodontal disease in expectant mothers potentially being the underlying cause of up to 18 out of every 100 premature births, the importance of dental care during pregnancy cannot be stressed enough. Whether you’re already expecting or are planning for a baby in the future, knowing how large a role your teeth play in your pregnancy is both critical and necessary. From routine cleanings and a healthy diet to x-rays and mouthguard hygiene, ensuring that your teeth and gums are in good condition while you are pregnant can help your baby have a healthy start in life

How your teeth can affect your baby
Because excessive bacteria in an expectant mother’s mouth can enter the bloodstream and head to the uterus (which may even induce labor prematurely), guarding against tooth decay and gum disease must be a priority for pregnant women. Those who are expecting are especially susceptible to dental issues because of the changes in hormones, which can cause the body to respond to plaque differently. This can lead to several dental problems, like gum diseases such as gingivitis, cavities, and general tooth decay. Stomach acid from morning sickness, vomiting, or acid reflux can also weaken the tooth enamel, making you more susceptible to dental issues and general sensitivity - not to mention the damage that sugary cravings can do, as well.

Oral hygiene while pregnant 
When it comes to your daily oral hygiene routine, it’s important to brush twice a day and floss regularly, as you normally would. However, if you experience vomiting with your morning sickness or even acid reflux, you should rinse your mouth with water and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing in order to protect your enamel. If you have braces and use a mouthguard, it’s important to keep your equipment clean and sterile, as it can reduce your exposure to bacteria and potential cavities. Eating sweets and sugar in moderation along with a healthy balanced diet can also help in preventing tooth decay while pregnant. In any situation, brushing thoroughly can help keep you and baby healthy, and so can going to the dentist regularly.

Informing your dentist
While you can, in fact, go to the dentist while pregnant, it’s important that you inform your dentist and hygienist of your pregnancy as well as of any medications you might be taking. Letting your dentist know of your pregnancy can allow the proper precautions to be taken in regards to x-rays, procedures, and when prescribing medications. Certain procedures and medications aren’t safe for expectant mothers at specific times of the pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. 

Going to the dentist is an important aspect of anyone’s dental care, and especially so if you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Because of the role that your dental health plays in your pregnancy and your baby’s health, it’s necessary to take the proper precautions like maintaining your oral hygiene routine and informing your dentist of your pregnancy.

Written by Jackie Edwards.  Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash