There are already many things to keep track of during pregnancy: doctor’s appointments, vitamin intake, eating healthy, etc. But many women do not realize the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene during pregnancy, and the effects it has on the baby.
Hormones and Oral Health
During pregnancy, women experience increased levels of hormones, which lead to many changes in the body, including inside the mouth. Pregnancy hormones (especially estrogen and progesterone) may exaggerate the immune response to the plaque that builds up on teeth, causing gums to be extra swollen and sensitive as early as the first trimester1, but typically peaking in the third trimester2. This is known as “pregnancy gingivitis”. Pregnant women are encouraged to brush twice daily (for two minutes each session) with fluoride toothpaste and to floss at least once a day.
Common Oral Health Concerns During Pregnancy
Here are some other common oral health concerns during pregnancy, and what you can do to minimize the impact on your mouth3:
Pre- and Post-Partum Oral Hygiene
Oral health habits can affect the health of your baby both during pregnancy and after birth. Your baby’s teeth typically develop between the third and sixth months of pregnancy. During this time, it is essential to consume the doctor-recommended amounts of Vitamin A, C, and D, as well as protein, calcium, and phosphorous. Research also suggests a link between gingivitis and preterm births, citing the extra bacteria entering the bloodstream through the gums as a trigger for chemicals that induce premature labor4.
Good maternal oral hygiene is also necessary after the birth of your baby. Maintaining optimal oral health decreases the amount of bacteria that produces cavities, which can be passed to the infant through typical parenting behavior (i.e. sharing utensils and giving kisses)5.
If you are pregnant, make an appointment with Dr. Leonard to make sure your oral health is in the best shape for your baby. Make sure to let him know that you are pregnant, and inform him which stage of pregnancy you are in, and if you’ve had any change in medications since your last visit.
1How Your Dental Habits Affect Your Baby’s Development (video). http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/pregnancy/?channelId=abf5cf1e382a471ea22adee61e32eb57&channelListId&mediaId=affb73187c974544a64479af0bc49894
2Oral Health Care During Pregnancy and Through the Lifespan. (2013). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
3Oral Health Care During Pregnancy and Through the Lifespan. (2013). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
4How Does Pregnancy Affect My Oral Health? (2016). Know Your Teeth. www.knowyourteeth.com
5Oral Health Care During Pregnancy and Through the Lifespan. (2013). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.