We know that it seems almost impossible to add another thing onto your plate while you are juggling all that comes with pregnancy and parenthood, but staying on top of your dental health is important at all times, and especially during pregnancy.
Why is dental care so important in pregnancy? Well, to begin with, pregnancy itself increases the likelihood of dental problems popping up. Hormone changes in pregnancy may create an environment that makes it easier for bacteria to grow in the mouth and gums, and the increased blood volume can make gums puffier and more friable, resulting in more bleeding from the gums. Also, many people vomit in pregnancy, and the stomach acids can start to wear away at tooth enamel, opening the door for tooth decay.
As you probably know, periodontal disease doesn’t just affect the look and feel of your teeth – the bacteria that gets released into your body can threaten your cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological health, as well as complicate diabetes – the list goes on.
In pregnancy, periodontal disease can increase the chance of premature birth or low birth weight. So, in light of all of the above, it is super important to make sure you take the time to take care of your teeth. What does this entail?
First, you should know that it is completely safe to see your dentist for regular cleanings during pregnancy, and you should definitely keep on schedule. In the age of COVID, it’s a good idea to review your dentist’s COVID precautions. Of course, make sure that your dentist knows you are pregnant.
Dental procedures are generally safe in pregnancy, though it is best to avoid routine X-rays. If you need an X-ray because of a problem, you should wear a protective apron. Non-routine procedures should wait until after the first trimester, if possible – but don’t put off an urgent concern, because dental procedures can be done safely at any time in pregnancy.
At home, make sure you are brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and flossing once a day. Using a mouthwash that kills germs, like Listerine, might be good if you are already fighting some gum problems (talk to your dentist and your healthcare provider). If you vomit, make sure to rinse your mouth right away with water, and then wait an hour or so before brushing.
And, of course, eat healthy foods that keep your teeth and body strong – fruits, vegetables, proteins. Avoid sugary drinks, juices or candies that stick to your teeth – the sugar really does contribute to periodontal disease.
Staying on top of your dental health just takes paying attention and following through with a good dental routine – isn’t it great to have one thing you can control in all of the chaos of life right now?