By Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer on Oct 09 2019
Caring for your teeth and gums is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. Consulting with your dentist after you find out you're expecting might not seem like an important thing to do, however your changing hormones can cause serious health risk that could potentially put you and the baby at risk.
Preventative dentistry is especially important when you’re expecting. Pregnancy causes you to be at greater risk of developing serious health problems with your teeth and gums.
Tooth Erosion: One of the most common health issues for expecting mothers is tooth erosion due to morning sickness, the stomach acid that comes into contact with your teeth can cause an irreversible loss of structure due to chemical dissolution. It is important to rinse your mouth out with water and wait 30 minutes after experiencing morning sickness to brush your teeth. With regular visits to your dentist, tooth erosion is something that can be dedicated and likely prevented early on.
Tooth Decay: Consuming a high volume of sugar and starch filled foods will cause tooth decay in anyone. It is important to limit your intake of these foods while pregnant, tooth decay might lead to infections that could cause harm to the baby. If you’re going to consume sugary drinks, use a straw so the sugar isn’t coming in direct contact with your teeth.
Maintain a Good Oral Health Care Routine
Sore Gums: Many women experience sore and swollen gums during pregnancy, which can make tasks like frequent brushing daunting. It is important you continue to care for your health despite the discomfort.
Increased Gag Reflex: Flossing can feel more like a chore for women who are being affected by a more present gag reflex. Making sure there is no food stuck between your teeth or in hard to brush areas is essential to keeping a healthy smile. By doing so, you will greatly decrease your risk of tooth decay and cavities. Some have found it helpful to use a toothbrush with a smaller head (a toddler toothbrush) to avoid triggering gag reflex while brushing.
Mouth Wash: By using mouthwash after brushing your teeth, you’re not only making your breath smell minty fresh but you’re giving your teeth an extra dose of fluoride. This will help strengthen your gums and keep them healthy.
Keep a Healthy Diet
Have a Balanced Diet: Having a balanced diet means hitting all (or close to all) the food groups on the food guide. Your baby's first teeth begin to develop around three months into the pregnancy, healthy diets that are rich in dairy provide essential minerals for your babies developing teeth and bones.
Read Food Labels: By reading food labels you will get a better understanding of what you’re putting into your body and how much sugar is in the product. Sugar is something you should always stay away from, but during your pregnancy it is extra important to limit your intake.
Drink Water: Drinking water between meals helps breakdown large chunks of food that could get stuck between your teeth, it also helps fight against bad breath. Drinking tap water is also known to strengthen your gums due to the florid in it. When it comes to choosing a drink, water is always your best option.
Fight Food Cravings
Food cravings are among the most common symptoms of pregnancy, for most women they begin to experience this in the first trimester. Usually, the cravings include sugary,salty or acidic foods that can be very harmful to your teeth. Follow these few steps to fight your food cravings.
Eat Regularly: Eating a healthy meal during regularly scheduled meal hours will help you feel full and not get a sudden burst of hunger. It is also helpful to keep your pantry stocked with healthy alternatives so the temptation to eat junk food isn’t there.
Healthy Sugars: It is not uncommon for a women to crave sugar during her pregnancy, if this is something you find yourself gravitating towards, give healthy sugars a try. Fresh fruits offer a much healthier alternative to getting a sugar fix in place of chocolate bars and other candy. Even with healthy sugars, it is important to brush your teeth after consumption and rinse with alcohol free mouthwash.
Get Plenty of Sleep: Recent studies have shown that people who are sleep deprived crave junk foods more so than others. Try to get a full eight hours of sleep each night, you will feel refreshed and will be better able to care for your teeth.
Increase Your Calcium Intake
One of the most important nutrients for your teeth (and those of your developing baby) is calcium. Calcium helps to strengthen the hard outer layer of your teeth which is your tooth enamel, many people choose to eat yogurt or milk when boosting their intake. The problem many women face during pregnancy is, they are unable to stomach dairy. Luckily, there are a few other ways to promote strong tooth enamel when you are expecting.
Brush Your Entire Mouth: In order to keep gums and teeth healthy, it is just as important to brush your tongue. By doing so, you will be removing plaque build up and keeping your entire mouth healthy.
Dry Mouth Prevention
There are many reasons a women could experience dry mouth during her pregnancy. Regardless of what that might be, dry mouth is very harmful to your teeth. This could be the cause of tooth decay, cavities, bad breath and many more serious health concerns. Follow these steps to prevent dry mouth symptoms.
Use a Humidifier at Night: A humidifier will produce humidity into the air which could relive some uncomfortable symptoms.
Use Dry Mouth Mouthwash: There are different types of mouthwash used to prevent or help with dry mouth, you can find these at your local drugstore.
Schedule Routine Check Ups Before Pregnancy
If you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to see your dentist ahead of time for many reasons. While regular routine check ups are important for everyone, they are especially important for soon to be mothers. Having a healthy mouth is an important part of having a healthy pregnancy.
Treatments: Some treatments are safer to be performed before pregnancy. Though it may be a simple procedure, it can be more comfortable for both the woman and her dental care professional to pursue it before she is expecting.
Prevention: As touched on earlier, preventive dentistry is very important for women trying to conceive. It will also give the dentist as well as the patient an understanding of how good their oral health is before pregnancy.
Precaution: Poor oral health during pregnancy could lead to complications that directly affect the developing baby. Some include inducing labor early or underweight baby, among many more risks.
Early Indication: If there are any underlying health concerns the dentist might find, they will be able to treat it before it becomes a bigger problem that might not be ideal to fix during pregnancy.
Postpone Major Dental Work
Postponing any major dental work until after your first trimester is a good idea. The first 13 weeks of your pregnancy are when the baby's vital organs begin developing, if you visit your dentist during the first trimester do so just for a cleaning and let them know you are expecting.
The Best Time: The best time to have any dental work done during pregnancy is in the second trimester. When a woman is in her third trimester it can be difficult and sometimes unsafe for her to lay on her back.
Dental Emergencies: Unfortunately dental emergencies don’t wait around, often times they are highly unpredictable. Regardless of the stage of pregnancy, dental emergencies should always be treated for the safety of the mother and baby.
Cavities and Fillings: If a cavity happens during pregnancy, they will be treated right away to prevent further infection from spreading and causing harm to the developing baby.
Teeth Whitening During Pregnancy
Many women wonder if bleaching their teeth during pregnancy is an option. Some believe it is, others say it’s not but the truth behind it is that there is no way of knowing for sure. Due to the lack of data behind it, dental professionals recommend you wait until after pregnancy and breastfeeding to resume teeth whitening. In the meanwhile, here are a few things you can do to ensure white teeth during pregnancy.
Use Whitening Toothpaste: Teeth whitening toothpastes have been tested and proven to contain a much lesser amount of bleaching agent and are not thought to be risky to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Stay Away From Drinks That Stain Teeth: Drinks like grape juice, pop and coffee can all cause tooth discoloration. If you are looking to maintain a bright and healthy smile without bleaching your teeth, it is important to avoid these products.
Local Anesthetics and Pregnancy
In the event of a dental emergency, root canal or other possible situations , a pregnant woman might have no choice but to use local anesthetics to remain comfortable during a procedure. It is important to consult with your dentist to make sure the numbing medication is safe for your baby. The use of local anesthetics during pregnancy is considered safe but the risks and benefits for the mother and fetus will always be considered.