Whether you’re a new mom or an experienced one, pregnancy is exhausting both physically and mentally. With all of the emotions, stress and challenges that women feel during their journey to motherhood, it’s incredibly common for oral health to take a backseat along the way.
According to a study by Cigna, 43% of pregnant women skip dental checkups even though 76% say they have oral-health issues. As we go through these changes, our bodies require even more maintenance and attention — particularly in oral care. Proper dental habits and checkups are essential to avoid long-term issues such as gingivitis, erosion, periodontitis as well as potential adverse pregnancy outcomes.
According to the American Dental Association, some studies have shown connections between poor dental hygiene and premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (high blood pressure). However, these findings have not been substantiated and require further research.
While pregnant women have been known to experience a variety of oral issues during pregnancy, we’d like to address some of the more common concerns we hear from moms. Every mother and mouth is unique, so we encourage you to give us a call if you have a specific issue you’d like to discuss.
Keep up your daily habits.
Although you’re experiencing many bodily changes, it’s important to stick with the basics. Keep brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once per day (preferably at night). We also recommend a non-alcoholic mouth rinse like Closys Gentle Mint to decrease the number of bad oral bacteria, reduce bleeding, and neutralize the mouth (particularly if morning sickness is a problem). It can be hard to maintain the discipline associated with regular care, but dropping the ball on your daily routine can increase your risk of long-term effects.
You may notice that your gums bleed a little more during pregnancy. Don’t worry — this will subside after the birth. Hormonal changes can cause your gums to be more susceptible to plaque, leading them to feel tender and sometimes bleed. Maintaining your oral routine will help combat this issue.
It is safe to see the dentist during pregnancy.
Despite what you may hear, all preventive, diagnostic and restorative dental treatments are perfectly safe during pregnancy. Even procedures that require local anesthetics may be performed during pregnancy. We recommend scheduling an appointment or cleanings during your second trimester or early third trimester in order to keep any threat of gingivitis at bay. This is also when you’ll be less uncomfortable sitting in a dentist chair. Keep your dentist in the loop about your pregnancy timeline and communicate often to let them know of any changes to your medication or direction from your doctor.
Make sure you’re getting the right nutrients
Throughout your pregnancy, your body needs an abundance of nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorus. Your eating habits—and nutrient absorption—are extremely important during pregnancy. In fact, since your child’s teeth begin to form between the third and sixth months of pregnancy, you’re planting the seeds for their oral health as well as yours.
In order to ensure that you’re getting the nutrients you need, we recommend eating a variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and foods low in sugar. Remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day, particularly water that contains fluoride. The ADA recommends getting 600 micrograms of folic acid daily, whether by taking a supplement or eating leafy greens, legumes, certain fruit juices as well as grain products like breads and white rice.
As you go through the journey of pregnancy, it’s important to take the time to properly care for and invest in your oral health. Although it can seem tedious compared to other aspects of carrying a child, it is just as critical to you and your family’s overall health. You’re not alone! Just know that there are plenty of resources and experts to help you along the way.
If you have any additional questions or concerns about dental care during pregnancy, please feel free to contact us or schedule some time to speak with one of our dental team members. Our team is standing by to answer your questions and make sure you receive the best care in the most comfortable environment possible.
Dental Arts is a full-service general dentistry and orthodontic practice for the entire family. For more than three decades, we have been providing the highest quality dental and orthodontic care available to the residents of New Orleans. Explore the Dental Arts difference today.