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Healthy teeth are a window into a healthy body. This is true more so when you are expecting your baby. 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.
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 ahead of your pregnancy.
Common Conditions During Pregnancy To help minimize any risks during pregnancy, here is some general advice and some common conditions to be on the lookout for:
• Gum disease– During pregnancy, teeth, and gums need special attention. Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, eating a balanced diet and visiting the dentist regularly will help reduce dental problems that accompany pregnancy. • Enamel erosion– For some women morning sickness is a major symptom of pregnancy. Along with nausea comes additional acid that, if left in your mouth, can erode your teeth. Be sure to rinse your mouth out with water or with a fluoride mouthwash to keep the acid level under control. • Dry mouth– Pregnancy dry mouth can put women at a greater risk for problems such as tooth decay and infections. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and chew sugarless gum to enhance production of saliva, if needed. Dental Care While Pregnant • Tell your dentist (and doctor) if you are pregnant. It’s best to schedule your dental visit during the fourth to sixth month of your pregnancy. This is because the first three months of pregnancy are thought to be of greatest importance in your child’s development. During the last trimester, stresses associated with dental visits can increase the incidence of prenatal complications. During the last three months of pregnancy, sitting for long periods of time in the dental chair can become uncomfortable. • If you need to schedule an emergency visit, let the office know about your pregnancy before you arrive. Discuss any stresses, past miscarriages, and drugs you are taking as these can all have an influence on how your dentist attends your needs. Your dentist may also want to consult with your physician/gynecologist before any treatment is started. If you have any doubts or concerns, insist that your dentist and physician discuss your particular needs. If your dentist prescribes medication, do not exceed the prescribed dosage (including aspirin). • Routine dental care can be done any time during pregnancy. Any urgent procedure can be done, as well. All elective dental procedures (cosmetic, tooth whitening, etc.), however, should be postponed until after the delivery. • Before you have your dental appointment, check with your obstetrician to see if she has any special precautions/instructions for you. • 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. • Dental X-rays can be done during pregnancy. Your dentist will use extreme caution to safeguard you and your babies, such as shielding your abdomen and thyroid. 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 gum 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.
Eating Right for Your Teeth and Baby 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. • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your baby’s first teeth begin to develop about three months into the pregnancy. Healthy diets containing dairy products 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. By: DR. SHWETA KIRIT JAVALI BDS, Certificate in Dental Implants, Tobacco Intervention Initiative Program
Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology