You’re so excited. You’re pregnant! You buy the books and download the apps so that you will know what to expect.
Then, you make your doctors appointment and you follow all of the handouts and guides that your doctor gave you.
You just neglected one thing. Your teeth.
I know you’re excited about that baby growing inside of you, but did you know if you have gum disease it can potentially harm your baby? Now that I have your attention, let me share with you some important information to help keep you and the baby healthy.
How to Maintain Good Oral Health for a Safe Pregnancy and Healthy Baby
Make a trip to see your dentist
Please don’t forget to make an appointment to see your dentist. Let the staff and the dentist know that you are pregnant as there are some special precautions that may need to be taken.
Being pregnant causes your body to change quite a bit.
With the changes in hormones comes changes in your mood, diet, and gums.
Changes in mood
With this new bundle of joy growing inside of you, your hormones can get a little goofy at times. You may notice yourself crying when you watch The Little Mermaid or easily agitated because morning sickness has you feeling terrible.
Because of these changes in mood, you may reach for food for comfort or just snack more frequently.
Be careful with snacking frequently. Especially snacking on foods high in carbohydrates and sugar as they can increase your risk of getting a cavity.
I have heard so many times women tell me “I never had any cavities and then I got pregnant and had my son/daughter and I got 5 cavities!”
Many times this has to do with the increase in snacking.
The bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugar and carbohydrates. The more you eat foods with carbs and sugar, the more the bacteria in your mouth produce an acid by-product that slowly destroys the tooth structure and eventually leads to a cavity.
Imagine you usually have a snack maybe twice a day before you got pregnant. After being a few months pregnant you find yourself with the munchies and have a snack 4-6 times a day. Just imagine, you like to snack on pretzels and fruit snacks. The pretzels help settle your stomach and the fruit snacks keep your taste buds happy. These snacks are also making the bacteria in your mouth have a party and wreck havoc on your teeth!
If you feel the need to have snacks a little more frequently, reach for a snack that is high in protein and fiber and low in carbs and sugar. A few of my favorite examples are cheese, yogurt, and leafy greens.
If you are consuming these foods they are less likely to start the process of a cavity on your teeth.
A different diet
Morning sickness can be rough at times. I remember when I first got pregnant all I could seem to keep down was yogurt and hot dogs. I wouldn’t eat anything unless it was yogurt or hot dogs. Not your balanced diet … I know.
There are some women that I have met that seem to only want those foods high in carbs and sugar like crackers and cookies. Remember, the frequent carbs and sugary foods increase the chances of cavities.
Puffy or tender gums
If you have healthy gums before being pregnant, you may notice that your gums bleed more.
This is may be what dentist call pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy gingivitis is inflammation (or bleeding) gums during pregnancy.
The good news is that after the pregnancy, your hormones will return to normal and so will your gums.
A more serious problem is having periodontal disease or gum disease. If you have gum disease and you are pregnant, you don’t want to miss your dentist appointment. This is not something to take lightly.
Having periodontal disease increases the risk of low birth weight or preterm birth.
Short list of tips
I know you want a healthy baby and a safe pregnancy. Maintaining good oral health in addition to your overall health is key.
Now is not the time to start slacking on brushing and flossing.
You can do it!
Here are a few things to keep in mind during your pregnancy:
- Make sure to keep up with your cleaning appointment with your dentist
- Let your dentist know if you are experiencing red, swollen, tender gums
- Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day
- If you have dental treatment, don’t put it off. (Most times you can get your dental treatment done while you are pregnant with your OB-GYN clearance.)
Pregnancy is a fun time that will cause a lot of changes to your mood, diet, and gums. Be cautious when snacking. Always chose the snacks high in fiber and protein over the snacks high in carbs and sugar. If you maintain your dental appointments and good oral hygiene, you will set yourself and your baby up for a healthy journey. I have created something special just for you. You can download a free guide to use during your pregnancy.
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Dr Toni is family dentist in Jacksonville, Florida and the author of the blog drtonidds.com. drtonidds.com is a blog helps mom’s achieve optimal oral health for themselves and the entire family. Dr Toni is a wife, mommy of two boys and enjoys spending free time watching WWE.