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Tips for expectant mothers: Pregnancy and dental health

Man and pregnant woman brushing their teeth together.

Moms-to-be are careful about their health and the health and safety of their growing babies. Yet proper dental care and regular dentist visits are sometimes dropped in favor of Lamaze classes and visits to the obstetrician.

But good dental care is important while you’re expecting.1 Pregnancy can create or worsen certain dental issues2, so caring for your mouth is essential. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and keeping your regular dental appointments are key—pregnant or not.

Pregnancy and dental health

As it turns out, just being pregnant can cause some issues with your teeth and gums. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are a number of common dental problems you may experience. Let’s review these problems, as well as some tips you can use to help prevent and treat them.

Higher risk of cavities and gingivitis

Pregnancy cravings may cause you to eat more sweets. Eating more sugary foods leads to cavities and gingivitis, or gum disease.

What can you do to help prevent tooth decay and gingivitis?

  • Limit sweets
  • Rinse your mouth immediately after eating or drinking
  • Keeping a good dental care routine

Morning sickness can also create tooth decay.3 When you vomit, stomach acid is left in your mouth. The acid eats away tooth enamel or the hard, outer surface of your teeth.

Try the following4:

  • Rinse and spit to wash away any leftover acids
  • If morning sickness or a bad gag reflex won’t allow you to brush your teeth, rinse with mouthwash (mixed with water if the taste or smell is too strong) or a cup of water with 1 teaspoon of baking soda.

Pregnancy gingivitis

The hormonal changes you experience during pregnancy can also affect your gums, causing some women to develop pregnancy gingivitis.5 This creates swollen, tender gums that may bleed while brushing or flossing.

Besides being uncomfortable, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that can spread into the ligaments and bones of your mouth. This is a real concern for expectant mothers. One report from the March of Dimes claims there is a link between periodontitis and premature birth, and another study shows that periodontitis may cause low birthweight babies.6

Do what you can to keep your teeth healthy. As the ADA recommends:

  • Brush twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • Keep your regular dental appointments
  • Your dentist may recommend more teeth cleanings if your pregnancy gingivitis is severe

Loose teeth

The changes in your hormones can also affect the ligaments and bones that keep your teeth in the right spot. This means they can become loose, even if your gums are healthy. Getting your six-month checkups while you’re pregnant—or making an appointment sooner if you notice a problem—may help prevent any tooth loss.

Pregnancy tumors

Thankfully, these scary-sounding tumors are NOT cancerous. They are lumps of tissue that can form between your teeth that can become sore and bleed. They are caused by having too much plaque build-up, so following a good dental routine may help prevent this painful problem.7

Dental care during pregnancy is important

For all of these reasons, brushing, flossing and professional cleanings are important. Keeping your six-month dental appointments is also critical to help you avoid any of these pregnancy-related dental issues.

But before you take a seat in the dental chair be sure to tell the dentist and dental hygienist that you are expecting. And be sure to mention any medications or vitamins you are taking.

If it turns out you will need dental work of some kind, the article Pregnancy and dental work: is it safe? will help you understand any risks.

And if you’re interested in learning how to take care of your infant’s teeth right from the start, read Baby’s first tooth.

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