August 11, 2021
Are you pregnant? Are you taking care of your oral health during this time? If so, good for you! However, if you are concerned about your less-than-stellar oral hygiene habits, it’s time to learn what problems can develop that may negatively impact you and your baby. A pediatric dentist is here to explain the importance of pregnancy oral care and what you can do to minimize your risk for many of the most common oral health problems.
Pregnancy and Oral Health: What Problems Can Develop?
Pregnant women are often so busy taking care of preparing the nursery, buying diapers, and taking care of cravings that sometimes they forget the importance of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Certain habits and developments throughout pregnancy can begin to cause problems, which, if left untreated, will negatively affect the baby, such as:
- Gum Disease: If teeth and gum tissues are not properly cleaned regularly, gum disease can develop and cause the soft oral tissues to become inflamed and begin to bleed. If left untreated, it can begin to destroy the bone and cause teeth to become loose. It can also result in a red growth near the area that begins to bleed.
- Morning Sickness: Those with morning sickness or severe reflux often face the potential for a breakdown of their tooth enamel and an increased risk of decay. Each time this action occurs, the teeth are coated in stomach acids, which can wreak havoc on the surface of a person’s teeth.
- Inability to Brush: Women who struggle to brush their teeth because of a sensitive gag reflex can quickly develop tooth decay or gum disease.
- Craving Sweets and Starches: It’s not uncommon for a pregnant woman to have interesting cravings; however, the more sugars and starches they consume, the greater they risk developing cavities and gum disease.
How is the Baby Affected?
No matter the oral health problem a mother faces, it can potentially put a baby at risk of developing many of the same problems. For example, if gum disease remains untreated, the bacteria and inflammation can enter the bloodstream and travel to various parts of the body. Should it reach the uterus, it can cause a woman to enter into premature labor.
Also, anytime a mother shares utensils with her baby or even provides kisses, there is a chance that bad bacteria inside her mouth will transfer to her infant. This can become problematic, especially if proper oral hygiene habits are not used at home.
Ways to Maintain Good Oral Health During Pregnancy
During this period of nine months, it is most beneficial for a woman to practice these simple tips to better protect her and her baby:
- Brushing twice each day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes
- Flossing at least once a day to remove bacteria from between teeth
- Rinsing with an ADA-approved mouthwash
- Continuing to see a dentist every six months for regular dental checkups and cleanings
- Eating healthy foods that not only encourage better oral health but also deliver key nutrients to the baby. Plenty of calcium and Vitamin D are essential
Optimal oral health during pregnancy is important. While it may not be easy at times, taking care of your teeth and gums will ensure your little one starts with a better chance for a healthier smile.
About the Author
Dr. Maggie Davis earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine and completed her pediatric residency at the University of Florida. As a board-certified pediatric dentist and diplomate in the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, she is dedicated to the field and continues to pursue continuing education to expand her skills. She and Dr. Lorielle Alter lead a team of professionals, all of whom are available to offer guidance when it comes to working with pregnant mothers and their children on ways to maintain healthy teeth and gums. If you are expecting and want to know what you can do to better protect both of your smiles, (727) 786-7551 or visit our website.
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