Any woman who has experienced pregnancy knows about the less-than-glamorous factors that come along with the journey to giving birth.
Dental health may be on the back burner but it is more important than ever to maintain it during those nine months. Extreme mood swings and raging hormones can cause gums to swell, trap food particles and bleed. Following these situations, sometimes, more severe gum conditions like periodontal disease or gingivitis can develop.
However, all of it is preventable. Take a look at a few ways to take care of your teeth along the way, avoid dental nightmares and lower your stress level.
Keep Consistent Check-ups
It is imperative for pregnant women to see a dentist on a regular basis, throughout most stages of pregnancy. However, if your doctor says to avoid lying on your back in the second half of the third trimester, wait to visit the dentist again until after the baby is born.
Make sure the dentist is aware of the pregnancy and be sure descaling is included in the check-up. Dental work does not affect the unborn child.
Avoid Cosmetic Treatment
Take a break from teeth whitening and any other cosmetic dental treatments during the nine months. Procedures like cavity fillings and root canals are okay.
The common phrase “eating for two” rings true to the fact that a pregnant woman is sharing nutrients with the baby. Eating an unhealthy, nutritionally imbalanced diet can weaken the immune system, causing weaker bones and unhealthy oral health. Specifically, try your best to avoid sugary foods and drinks, which can increase chances of tooth decay in the mother, and possibly pass bacteria to the child. Include calcium-rich dairy products, like cheese and yogurt, which are solid sources of necessary minerals for the baby’s teeth, bones and gums.
According to the American Dental Association, there may be a correlation between gum disease and low birth weight babies, as well as gestational diabetes, which can be avoided by a healthy combination of diet and low intensity exercise (once your doctor approves it).
Treat Dry Mouth
Pregnant women tend to develop dry mouth, obviously caused from a lower saliva flow. It can actually cause gum issues because regular saliva aids in protecting the mouth. Drinking lots of water, using fluoride mouthwashes, keeping up with dental care and even chewing sugar-free gum are all ways to help treat dry mouth.
Stay Alcohol and Smoke Free
Along with all of the well-known research found behind the damaging effects alcohol and tobacco-use can have on babies’ health, it can cause the baby to be underweight, and in turn, affect their teeth.
It is more important than ever during pregnancy to keep up with brushing and flossing everyday, at least twice a day, if not three.
If morning sickness if an issue, rinse the mouth after vomiting to avoid tooth erosion but remember not to brush for at least half an hour after vomiting to avoid more damage to the teeth. Also, try switching to a bland toothpaste.
Make sure your dentist knows all of the names and dosages of the drugs your doctor prescribed you, including prenatal vitamins. Also, make sure to stay away from tetracycline while pregnant because it can alter the unborn child’s teeth.
Guest post by Caroline L. Young, a full-time news reporter for an Atlanta newspaper, a freelance journalist, a yoga instructor and contributor to http://www.topdentists.com/, an online dental resource. She reads and writes about health topics as often as she can.
Photo Credit: Brush With Toothpaste by Petr Kratochvil