Pregnancy and Oral Health
You need to be concerned about oral health during pregnancy in order to protect your own well-being and that of your child.
Why is good oral hygiene necessary?
- Good oral hygiene is even more important when you are pregnant because tooth and gum problems are more likely to occur during pregnancy and good oral hygiene can lessen and prevent such problems.
How to maintain good oral hygiene.
- Proper nutrition is crucial for your own good health as well as for the development of your baby’s teeth. The tooth buds develop during the 3rd through 6th month of your pregnancy and a balanced diet will ensure that your baby receives the nutrients necessary for proper tooth formation. You should limit sugar-rich foods and take your prenatal vitamins and adequate calcium.
- Regular visits to your dentist are important. He/she will address any problems, which exist and reinforce proper oral hygiene techniques. Brushing and flossing are as important now as they were before. You should do both after all meals and snacks to prevent build-up of plaque: a thin, sticky, invisible layer of harmful bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. If you experience nausea after brushing during the first trimester, you may try using a mixture of baking soda and water instead of toothpaste. You can also try to clean between your teeth with a toothpick until you can floss again.
- Because of a rise in hormone levels during pregnancy, gums may become over sensitive and especially irritated by plaque causing them to be red and puffy and to bleed easily. Thoroughly brushing and flossing will remove plaque and a balanced diet will help keep your gums healthy.
- If possible, dental procedures other than regular cleaning should wait until after your baby is born. If your dentist feels that a specific dental procedure is necessary; however, it is generally safe to proceed. It is best to avoid procedures requiring anesthetics during the first trimester. If you require an anesthetic or antibiotics, it may be a good idea for your dentist and your physician to consult on any proposed treatment. Also be sure to tell your dentist about any medications you are taking, even aspirin.
- Although radiation exposure from a single x-ray is very slight, only those x-rays essential for proper diagnosis in an emergency such as pain or swelling should be taken. Be sure your abdomen is shielded with a lead apron during such an x-ray.