Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy, from the weight gain and changing hormones to stretching muscles and organs. But one of the most important changing areas is a part of your body you use every day—your teeth. Your pearly whites and everything else in your body play a major role in your overall and pregnancy health. Here are five things you should know about your teeth and oral health when you’re pregnant.
Dental health affects you and the baby. The health of your teeth can impact your overall health, even if you’re not pregnant. However, when you are pregnant, you are brushing and flossing for two, and the health of your mouth can affect the baby. Poor dental health allows more bacteria in your mouth, which is then passed through your bloodstream to the baby. These bacteria can cause a number of the problems, the most common of which is a low birth weight.
Don’t be afraid to visit the dentist often. Because things change so quickly during pregnancy, it is recommended to visit the dentist multiple times over the course of nine months. Frequent dental visits can keep your oral health in line and alert you to problems as they arise, instead of when they turn into something bigger down the road. Make sure your dentist knows you are pregnant, as that can affect the treatments and medicine you receive.
Continue to brush and floss every day. Pregnancy means it is even more important to continue good, basic dental habits. One of the most important things you can do is brush your teeth at least twice a day with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Even simply brushing and flossing can control or prevent many pregnancy-related dental issues. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or existing dental problems, your dentist may recommend a more intense dental treatment. Morning sickness and frequent vomiting can cause tooth enamel to erode, so dentists recommend rinsing your mouth with water mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda in addition to frequent teeth brushing.
Good eating can help dental health. Eating fruits, vegetables, and foods rich in calcium and nutrients can greatly improve your oral health. Many problems can also be lessened by drinking more water. A common pregnancy problem is “dry mouth,” which is often combined with headaches, a stuffy nose, and chapped lips. The best way to get rid of dry mouth is to drink lots of water so the mouth stays moist.
Some problems go away on their own. One of the most common dental issues during pregnancy is known as pregnancy gingivitis, or sensitive gums that are red and swollen. Many women also report that their gums bleed during routine teeth brushing. These problems are typically caused by increased hormone levels and not necessarily from a woman’s dental health practices. In general, pregnancy gingivitis typically starts around the second month of pregnancy and hits its peak during the eighth month. Although the condition isn’t pleasant, it goes away on its own after the baby is born.