Are you pregnant? Congratulations, and guess what? Now you’re brushing for two!
Pregnancy changes many things in an expectant mother’s life, including the health of her teeth and gums. Morning sickness and hormonal changes during pregnancy can make you more prone to cavities and gum disease, which can impact your overall health and the health of your baby. That’s why it’s important to understand what the increased risks are and how to prevent oral health issues while pregnant.
Possible changes you can expect during pregnancy
- Pregnancy Gingivitis: Increased hormone levels during pregnancy can cause pregnancy gingivitis, or redness, swelling or bleeding of the gums. Expectant mothers should take extra care with their oral hygiene, including brushing with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and flossing daily. Untreated gingivitis can lead to serious complications and gum disease.
- Dry mouth: Because saliva helps to combat cavity-forming bacteria, dentists recommend drinking lots of water, chewing sugarless gum and sucking on hard candies that contain xylitol to help reduce the bacteria that cause plaque and cavities.
- Morning Sickness: If you experience morning sickness, it can be tough to brush consistently and properly. Oral care is important to avoid erosion of tooth enamel – if switching to bland-tasting toothpaste doesn’t help, try rinsing with one teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water.
What are the risks to my baby?
Moms and babies share everything — including bacteria. If you have cavities or gum disease, you also have the bacteria that cause them in your mouth. These bacteria can be passed from your mouth to your baby’s mouth and increase her risk of cavities, too. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are 3 times as likely to have tooth decay if their mothers have high levels of untreated tooth decay. That’s why it’s so important to get a dental check-up and establish a healthy smile before your baby is born.
To prevent oral problems during pregnancy:
- Make and keep regular dental appointments. It is absolutely safe to visit the dentist while pregnant – just let the dentist know you are expecting.
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste at least 2x daily
- Drink fluoridated tap water every day
- Limit sugary foods
Once your baby is born, be sure to begin brushing as soon as their first tooth appears with non-fluoridated toothpaste and call our offices to schedule their first dental visit no later than their first birthday.
Sources: March of Dimes, CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics