Pregnancy changes your body in so many ways.
As your baby grows, you may notice some pretty serious changes in your mouth, especially. Along with your ever-growing baby bump, you may find that your teeth, gums and mouth become vulnerable to major dental problems. Leaving them to their own devices can spell disaster for your oral health, even if you’re doing everything else right.
It’s hard to always know the right thing to do during pregnancy, but these tips should keep your mouth — and your baby — in great shape until the big day (and beyond!):
- Open the communications lines to your dentist. If you’re planning to get pregnant in the short term, your dentist needs to know. This way, they can plan any dental work around your pregnancy — or at least the most vulnerable windows if you have dental work that can’t really be postponed.Letting your dentist in can also help you prepare for the large amount of stress that pregnancy can put on your body. Your dentist can recommend ways to build up and maintain your oral health during your pregnancy.
- Keep up your great oral health habits. Brushing and flossing are always important, but they should become high priorities during pregnancy, especially if you’re having a lot of morning sickness. All the acid that’s coming up from your stomach can seriously damage tooth enamel.It may help to rinse your mouth with mouthwash after you vomit or swish with a combination of baking soda and water. Wait 30 minutes before brushing.
- Pay good attention to your gum health. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of gum disease, including gingivitis and “pregnancy tumors,” which appear during the second trimester.Pregnancy tumors are caused by excess plaque, making the gums inflamed and sporting red, shiny growths that bleed easily. Generally, they’ll go away after the baby is born, but a good dentist can remove them when necessary.
- Don’t put off dental x-rays. It’s good that you’re worried about your baby enough to want to protect them from everything that could possibly harm them, but dental x-rays are extremely safe, even for your baby. Current guidelines advise pregnant women to seek out needed dental treatment, including x-rays, because the benefits far outweigh the risks. Just let the doctor or technician know that you’re pregnant so they can take a few extra precautions to limit the already minimal radiation that you’ll be exposed to during dental x-rays.
- Make healthy food choices. As it turns out, the food you eat today influences the teeth of your baby tomorrow. Your baby will start growing teeth early in the pregnancy, so you need to make sure they have all the vitamin A, C and D, protein, calcium and phosphorus they need.Have at least three servings of dairy daily, along with your prenatal vitamins, and ask your doctor about any other nutritional issues you may encounter.
Getting through your pregnancy with your oral health intact shouldn’t be a struggle. With the help of your dentist, you’ll be able to maintain a great smile, even after your baby’s born.
Don’t forget to bring them in for their first dental exam before their first birthday to start establishing good dental practices that will last them a lifetime.