Oral Care and Pregnancy
Maintaining proper oral care during pregnancy is of the utmost importance, both for a healthy mom-to-be, and a healthy baby. All routine check ups and at-home care should continue during pregnancy, including your six-month exam, brushing, and flossing. Ideally, if you are planning for a pregnancy, seeing your dentist before you conceive is ideal. That way, any issues that may need to be addressed can be taken care of before you become pregnant. Although there hasn’t been much of a focus on pregnancy and good oral health care in the past, recent research has shown that an emphasis on adequate dental care in pregnancy can prevent issues for the unborn child. Some of the prenatal complications that have arisen due to poor dental health care include premature delivery, low-birth weight, premature onset of contractions, infections in newborn children, and even miscarriages and stillbirths. When oral health care related, these complications are generally due to bacteria transmission from the mother’s mouth to the baby via her bloodstream and the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. These types of complications are generally avoidable, as long as good dental health habits are maintained throughout a woman’s pregnancy.
A somewhat less serious, but still uncomfortable, part of pregnancy are bleeding gums caused by hormonal changes. In general, everyone should be careful not to brush or floss their teeth too forcefully, but pregnant women in particular should watch out for this, as it can increase their chances for bleeding. The same hormonal changes that cause gums to bleed can also increase the risk for gum disease, so continuing to brush at least twice a day with a proper toothbrush, flossing, and seeing a dentist are all very important parts of at-home care routine to maintain during a pregnancy. If you are pregnant, when you do see your dentist for your regular exam, be sure to tell them about your pregnancy. Just to be safe, most dentists will not perform dental treatments during the first trimester, and second half of the third trimester. Any elective treatments should be delayed until after the delivery. Note that any x-rays for which you may be due will be postponed until that time as well. Also, be sure to tell your dentist about any medications you are taking, including a prenatal vitamin or iron supplement. From a nutritional standpoint, be sure you’re getting enough calcium, protein, phosphorus, and Vitamins A, C, and D throughout your pregnancy. Adequate intake of these nutrients is very important to the proper formation of your baby’s teeth and bones.