Pregnancy comes with a lot of responsibilities. There are several dos and don'ts, and you have to manage your routine, diet, environment and overall health carefully. Unfortunately, a vast majority of women fail to prioritise their dental health during pregnancy, and this can lead to serious consequences. Pregnancy and dentistry go hand in hand, and in order to ensure the health of both you and your unborn child, you need to take proper care of your dental and oral health.
Below are some tips to help you maintain good oral health during pregnancy.
Brushing and Flossing Daily
We all know that brushing and flossing daily is important for oral health. However, during pregnancy, these simple activities can be difficult. Morning sickness, for example, might make you hesitant to put anything (even a toothbrush) into your mouth.
If the smell and taste of toothpaste are triggering your morning sickness, opting for bland toothpaste can help make brushing easier. Also, you can hold off on brushing till after your morning sickness is gone. Using a small-sized or children's toothbrush can also help if you struggle with gagging.
It is also very important that you don't skip flossing (even if it may be stressful), as during pregnancy, your hormones are very active, and they can feed on the bacteria in your mouth. Try flossing at least once a day to prevent bacteria and plaque from building up.
Regular Dental Check-Ups
In an effort to keep your baby from harm, you might be tempted to forgo getting dental check-ups during pregnancy. This decision sadly has the opposite effect, and it might even put your baby at risk. Pregnancy hormones are quite active, and they make your teeth and gums very susceptible to oral infections and diseases. Also, if you do get an oral infection, there is a high risk of your baby being affected.
Dental check-ups help you maintain optimal health by catching and treating oral health issues before they can worsen. Professional dental cleanings also ensure that your teeth and mouth are free from plaque and any disease-causing bacteria.
Watch out for Gingivitis
Even with regular dental checks, you still need to keep an eye out for signs of gum disease, especially during the long stretch between dentist visits. As mentioned earlier, pregnancy causes hormonal changes, and this, in combination with increased blood flow, can increase your chances of developing pregnancy gingivitis.
Having gingivitis during pregnancy is very dangerous because the germs that attack your gums could enter into the bloodstream and endanger your pregnancy.
You can prevent pregnancy gingivitis by watching out for some of the early signs, which include; bleeding gums, halitosis (bad breath), gum swelling and redness, loose teeth and chewing difficulties. If you notice any of these signs, immediately contact your dentist for a diagnosis and treatment.
Limit Your Sugar Intake
Sugar has a tendency to stick to your teeth, and when microscopic bacteria enter your mouth to eat these sugars, they excrete acid in return. These acids erode and eat through your teeth, leading to cavities and gum disease. While you don't necessarily need to eliminate carbs during pregnancy, you can opt to get your daily dose of carbohydrates from fruits, whole grains and other healthy carbs.
If your pregnancy food cravings make this challenging, you can try to compromise with a substitute that combats those cravings. For example, if you're craving potato chips because of their crunch and saltiness, kale chips are a healthier alternative that offers the same crunchiness.
If you do, however, cave and consume sweets or carbs, make sure to brush your teeth immediately after eating them.
Gargle With a Baking Soda Solution
Most pregnant women experience morning sickness, which can cause frequent vomiting. Vomit contains stomach acid, which can cause tooth decay. To neutralise this acid and prevent decay, you can gargle a solution of baking soda (1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed into warm water). In addition to protecting your teeth, this solution will also help you get rid of the sour taste left behind by the vomit.
Control Your Cravings (Pica)
It is not uncommon for women to experience weird cravings during pregnancy. In some cases, these cravings can be extremely bizarre and involve non-food items. This is known as pica.
If you have pica, you might find yourself craving things like; dirt, ice, sand, laundry detergent and glass. Obviously, all of these items can harm your teeth and even cause toxicity for both you and the baby, so it is crucial that you contact your doctor immediately if you notice these cravings.
Plaque buildup may increase in some pregnant women, so it is important to take measures to prevent it. Talk to your dentist about recommendations for a safe antimicrobial mouth rinse you can use to prevent plaque.
Don't Forget to Take Your Prenatal Vitamins
Make sure to always take your prenatal vitamins as they help with strengthening your dental health and the development of your unborn child. Your body also needs more calcium during pregnancy, so it is important that you consume prenatal vitamins that contain vitamin D and calcium.
Maintaining good oral health is very important during pregnancy. It is what ensures that you do not develop serious issues like cavities and gingivitis, which can harm your baby. Follow the oral care tips above to enjoy your pregnancy and welcome your baby with a healthy and beautiful smile. If you are really concerned, then it is best for your peace of mind to speak to an expert at a reliable dentist like The Walton Practice.