Whether it’s your first or your third, pregnancy is always an exciting time. The pending arrival of a little one is a time of both joy and frustration, but above all, it is busy, sometimes overwhelmingly so! With so much going on and so many things demanding your attention, it’s really easy to let some aspects of personal care slide. While that’s understandable in some ways, you still need to take care of your oral health. As it turns out, pregnancy and oral health interact in some important ways, and understanding them will help you take better care of yourself and your baby as you move through the process.
First and foremost, during every stage of pregnancy, it’s important to find the time to maintain a good brushing and flossing routine. This is more than a cosmetic issue–the changing hormones that come with pregnancy can increase your risk of gum disease or tooth decay. Towards that end, focusing on your oral health every day can help prevent both immediate issues with gingivitis and plaque and the long-term concerns that oral health infections and damage can bring. Taking care of your teeth is part of caring for your overall health, which in turn keeps both you and your baby healthy.
Another aspect of self-care that affects your oral health, overall health, and the health of your baby is diet. We all know that diet affects our teeth, which are the first step in the alimentary system, but pregnancy presents some additional challenges and considerations. During pregnancy, it’s easy to fall into the habit of eating easy snack foods or giving in to a sweet tooth. While that’s fine every now and then, starchy and sugary foods can fuel the growth of bacteria in the mouth which may, in turn, lead to cavities, plaque buildup, or even tooth loss. So in addition to maintaining a good brushing and flossing routine, a healthy diet will help keep your teeth and gums healthy while helping your baby grow and benefit from all that wonderful nutrition.
While we’re on the subject of diet and brushing/flossing, we should talk about one of the least pleasant aspects of pregnancy: morning sickness. Many people going through pregnancy experience nausea or vomiting in the mornings, particularly during the first three months or so. While that’s natural–your doctor can explain more about how and why morning sickness occurs–it does pose some additional oral health considerations. Vomiting introduces acids into the mouth that may weaken tooth enamel if left unaddressed. In the wake of morning sickness, don’t brush your teeth right away. Rinsing the mouth thoroughly with water and giving the enamel some time to remineralize and recover can help mitigate the potential damage caused by vomiting. Brushing immediately while the enamel is still soft from acid exposure may cause further damage, so please avoid that!
While the foundations of good oral health happen at home, it’s important to include your dentist as an active part of your health care during pregnancy. Your dentist needs to know that you’re pregnant, and you need to maintain an appropriate schedule of exams and cleanings during your pregnancy. Your dentist can then suggest the best course of care during your pregnancy while simultaneously keeping an eye out for some of the additional considerations that pregnancy brings for oral health. In addition, some common dental procedures like x-rays may be affected by your pregnancy, which is another reason to keep your dentist in the loop!
Pregnancy is a journey and one that does affect all aspects of your life. By finding the time to care for your oral health during pregnancy, you’ll be taking care of both your overall health and that of your child. If you have further questions about oral health during your pregnancy, or just need an exam and cleaning, get in touch with us today for an appointment!