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Keeping Your Mouth Healthy During Pregnancy
By: ChanDent , Categories: Healthy Tips,Oral Health , Comments Off on Keeping Your Mouth Healthy During Pregnancy

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:Oral health during pregnancy

  • Oral Gingivitis Lesions: Although rare, a lesion may appear on the anterior gingiva (the gums surrounding your front teeth). This usually goes away on its own after pregnancy, however, if the lesion is too painful, your dentist may decide to remove it. Since these lesions are a result of the body reacting to oral pathogens, taking extra care of your oral health may reduce your likelihood of developing these lesions.
  • Tooth Erosion: Morning sickness and gastric reflux are already annoyances during pregnancy, but can do more harm than you realize. The increased exposure to the acid in vomit can increase erosion of enamel. One way to help neutralize this acid is to rinse with a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in a cup of water.
  • Cavities: In addition acid eroding enamel due to morning sickness and gastric reflux, the sugary snacks and drinks you crave during pregnancy increase the risk of cavities. Whenever possible, substitute sticky and sugary snacks with healthier options like vegetables and fresh (not dried) fruit. Drinking plenty of water can also help decrease the amount of sugar that sticks to your teeth after snacking.

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).
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.
5Oral Health Care During Pregnancy and Through the Lifespan. (2013). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.