Dental health doubly important during pregnancy

A pregnant woman smiles as she eats an apple

If you’re a pregnant mom, you have a lot to think about when nurturing your growing baby. One important part of your healthcare during this time, that many women forget when they are pregnant, is oral health.

It’s important for you to take good care of your teeth and gums. The changes pregnancy cause in the body can increase the risk of developing gum disease, which can affect the health of your baby.

Here are a few tips to help maintain good oral health before, during, and after pregnancy.1

Try to make a dental appointment before getting pregnant. If any oral health problems arise, they can be treated before pregnancy.

Here are a few more tips to consider:

  • Tell your dentist about the pregnancy. Avoid dental treatments during the first trimester and second half of the third trimester. These are very important times in the baby's growth and development. It’s smart to avoid being exposed to procedures that could hurt the baby’s growth. However, routine dental care can be received during the second trimester. All elective dental procedures should be put off until after the delivery.
  • Tell the dentist the names and dosages of any medicines you take. These should include all medicines, even vitamins. Also, be sure to share any medical advice given from a doctor. The dentist may need to change any dental treatment plan based on this information.
  • Avoid dental X-rays during pregnancy. If X-rays are needed, your dentist will use caution to protect both you and your baby. Advances in technology have made X-rays much safer for pregnant women.
  • Don’t skip dental check-up appointments because you are pregnant. Regular gum exams are more important during pregnancy. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that can put you at increased risk for gum disease. The changes can also cause tender gums that bleed easily. This condition is called pregnancy gingivitis. Pay close attention to any changes in your gums. If tenderness, bleeding, or gum swelling occurs, talk with your dentist.

Other ways to maintain good oral health while pregnant

Sometimes morning sickness may cause you to not want to brush your teeth. If this happens, change to a bland-tasting toothpaste. Ask the dentist to suggest other brands. Rinse your mouth out with water or a mouth rinse while suffering from morning sickness.

Eating right for teeth and baby

Cravings for sweets are common during pregnancy, but it’s important to avoid sugary snacks. Remember that the more you snack, the greater the chances of getting tooth decay. Some studies have shown that the bacteria responsible for tooth decay are passed from the mother to the child.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Babies’ first teeth begin to develop about three months into pregnancy. Dairy products, cheese, and yogurt are sources of nutrients good for developing teeth, gums, and bones.

After pregnancy

See the dentist soon after delivery to have a thorough mouth examination and a gum health evaluation.