Taking care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy
Your oral health is an important part of your overall health, and this is never more true than during pregnancy.
Good oral health habits not only help prevent oral problems during pregnancy, they also help the health of your unborn child.
What you eat during your pregnancy affects the development of your unborn child — including teeth.
Eating a balanced diet is necessary to provide the correct amounts of nutrients to nourish both you and your child.
Your babys teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth month of pregnancy, so it is important that you receive sufficient nutrients especially calcium, protein, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and D.
There is a common myth that calcium is lost from the mothers teeth during pregnancy.
In fact, the calcium your baby needs is provided by your diet, not by your teeth. If your diet does not provide enough calcium, your body will provide this mineral from stores in your bones.
If you have an adequate intake of dairy products the main source of calcium or take any supplements your obstetrician recommends this will help you get the calcium you need.
To help prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease, brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque. Be sure to clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners.
Make regular visits to your dentist during your pregnancy to ensure the best possible health for you and your baby.
Things to look out for during pregnancy
Every woman wants to maintain their own health during pregnancy and to take whatever steps are necessary to give the baby the best possible start.
There are a few factors in your oral health to look out for during this time.
One consideration is that its common for pregnant women to have the urge to eat between meals. The risk is that frequent snacking on carbohydrate-containing foods can encourage tooth decay.
Bacteria in your mouth called plaque can convert the sugar and starch in your mouth into an acid that attacks tooth enamel. After repeated attacks, tooth decay can result.
So, when you need a snack, try to choose foods that are nutritious for you and your baby such as raw fruits and vegetables and dairy products.
During pregnancy, your bodys hormone levels rise considerably. Gum problems, such as gingivitis, are especially common during the second to eighth months of pregnancy. They may cause red, puffy or tender gums that bleed when you brush.
This is an exaggerated response to plaque caused by higher levels of progesterone in your system. Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings at some stages to help you avoid problems.
Occasionally overgrowths of gum tissue, called pregnancy tumors, appear on the gums during the second trimester. These localized growths or swellings are usually found between the teeth and are thought to be related to excess plaque.
They bleed easily and are often surgically removed after the baby is born.
Studies indicate that pregnant women who have severe periodontal (gum) disease may be at increased risk for pre-term delivery, which in turn increases the risk of having a low-birth-weight baby.
So its particularly important to maintain good oral health during pregnancy. Make sure you clean your teeth carefully and visit your dentist regularly.