Often times, when women are expecting, they wonder if dental care during pregnancy is safe. The answer is, of course, it is safe. There are some simple steps that should be followed. The WDA recommends these oral health practices for expecting mothers:
Brush and Floss Every Day
Dentists recommend that pregnant women brush their teeth twice daily with a toothpaste that contains fluoride, and floss at least once daily, Hormonal changes while pregnant affect the way gums react to plaque, which is why it is important to be very thorough in cleaning one’s teeth.
Nearly half of pregnant women will develop pregnancy gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that most commonly develops between the second and eighth month of pregnancy. This can cause gums to become red, sore and even bleed. If left untreated, gingivitis will not only cause irritation and discomfort but can also lead to more serious forms of gum disease, premature labor, low birth weight and more.
Don’t Miss an Appointment
If the last visit to the dentist was more than six months ago it’s time to schedule an appointment. Inform the dentist of the pregnancy, how far along and any changes to medication that have occurred. Unless a pregnant patient has a medical condition or a high-risk pregnancy, routine checkups and cleanings from the dentist are harmless.
Although treatment is safe at any point during pregnancy, it is recommended to schedule it during the second trimester. Treatments during the first trimester could be difficult due to nausea and a heightened gag reflex. During the third trimester, it may be uncomfortable to lay in a reclined dental chair with the positioning and weight of the baby. By taking care of this early on, it reduces the risks of having a dental emergency during pregnancy.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
While it’s normal for pregnant women to consume a bit more, it is important to be conscious of what is being eaten and to avoid constant snacking. For a number of reasons, pregnancy increases the risk for tooth decay, which is why sugary cravings should be resisted.
Development of the baby’s teeth will occur between the third and sixth month, so it is essential that they receive the vitamins, minerals and nutrients necessary to help teeth form correctly. Make sure to eat a well-balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins.
Defend Teeth From Morning Sickness
An unpleasant, but common side effect for the majority of women during pregnancy is morning sickness. Many times this is accompanied by vomiting. For those who experience this, it’s important to be prepared to combat the harmful effects it can have on your teeth. Due to increased, repeated exposure to acid, teeth become susceptible to enamel erosion, which eats away at the hard surface layer needed to protect against decay.
Prevent enamel erosion by rinsing with a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in one cup of water following bouts of vomiting. Then, wait roughly one hour to brush to allow the tooth enamel to harden. If you have difficulty brushing due to heightened sensitivity to the smell of toothpaste, experiment with milder, more tolerable flavors. Regardless of what point one is at in pregnancy, it’s always a good idea to assess oral health care needs. Now, more than ever is the time to maintain habits that ensure a healthy future for the baby.
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