Dental Care and Pregnancy
It's important for you to take good care of your teeth and gums while pregnant. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase the risk of developing gum disease which, in turn, can affect the health of your developing baby.
Below are some tips to help you maintain good oral health before, during, and after pregnancy.
Before You Get Pregnant
Try to make a dental appointment before getting pregnant. That way, your teeth can be professionally cleaned, gum tissue can be carefully examined, and any oral health problems can be treated in advance of your pregnancy.
Dental Care While Pregnant
- Tell your dentist (and doctor) if you are pregnant. As a precautionary measure, dental treatments during the first trimester and second half of the third trimester should be avoided as much as possible. These are critical times in the baby's growth and development and it's simply wise to avoid exposing the mother to procedures that could in any way influence the baby's growth and development. However, routine dental care can be received during the second trimester. All elective dental procedures should be postponed until after the delivery.
- Tell your dentist the names and dosages of all drugs you are taking – including medications and prenatal vitamins prescribed by your doctor – as well as any specific medical advice your doctor has given you. Your dentist may need to alter your dental treatment plan based on this information. Certain drugs -- such as tetracycline -- can affect the development of your child's teeth and should not be given during pregnancy.
- Avoid dental X-rays during pregnancy. If X-rays are essential (such as in a dental emergency), your dentist will use extreme caution to safeguard you and your baby. Advances in technology have made X-rays much safer today than in past decades.
- Don't skip your dental checkup appointment simply because you are pregnant. Now more than any other time, regular periodontal (gum) exams are very important because pregnancy causes hormonal changes that put you at increased risk for periodontal disease and for tender gums that bleed easily – a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. Pay particular attention to any changes in your gums during pregnancy. If tenderness, bleeding or gum swelling occurs at any time during your pregnancy, talk with your dentist or periodontist as soon as possible.
- Follow good oral hygiene practices to prevent and/or reduce oral health problems.
Coping With Morning Sickness
- If morning sickness is keeping you from brushing your teeth, change to a bland-tasting toothpaste during pregnancy. Ask your dentist or hygienist to recommend brands.
- Rinse your mouth out with water or a mouth rinse if you suffer from morning sickness and have bouts of frequent vomiting.
Eating Right for Your Teeth and Baby
- Avoid sugary snacks. Sweet cravings are common during pregnancy. However, keep in mind that the more frequently you snack, the greater the chance of developing tooth decay. Additionally, some studies have shown that the bacteria responsible for tooth decay are passed from the mother to the child. So be careful of what you eat.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your baby's first teeth begin to develop about three months into pregnancy. Healthy diets containing dairy products, cheese, and yogurt are a good source of these essential minerals and are good for baby's developing teeth, gums, and bones.
After You've Had Your Baby
If you experienced any gum problems during your pregnancy, see your dentist soon after delivery to have your entire mouth examined and periodontal health evaluated.