Great Lakes Dental team

Tips for Maintaining Your Dental Health During Pregnancy

If you are like most women who are expecting a child, you manage your overall health carefully by eating all the right foods, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol – but you may overlook the health of your teeth. This may be because you are unaware of the importance of oral health during pregnancy, or because you are in a hurry (growing a family can be very hectic!).

Fortunately, our cosmetic dentist in Mentor OH can provide you with tips for keeping your teeth healthy during your pregnancy.

How Pregnancy Affects Oral Health

Pregnancy can be hard on your oral health, as changes associated with pregnancy can cause problems with teeth and gums.

Pregnancy increases the risk of gum disease

Between 60 and 75 percent of pregnant women have the early stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Gingivitis is an infection that can develop when changing hormones aggravate inflammation of the gum tissue. If not treated, gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease, which is the more serious form of gum disease.

Changes in eating habits

Your eating habits may change too – cravings, morning sickness, and other effects of pregnancy can change the foods you eat, and these changes can affect your oral health. You might eat more of one type of food than you used to, for example, or stop eating another type of food altogether.

During pregnancy, some people experience pica, which is a condition that causes them to eat things that can harm their overall health or hurt their teeth. Some chew on ice, for example, which can cause small cracks in tooth enamel.

Increases oral tenderness and sensitivity

Sometimes pregnancy can make gum tissue feel tender and sensitive, which can prevent some people from brushing and flossing as normal during pregnancy. Brushing and flossing can also cause some pregnant people to feel nauseated.

The March of Dimes says that pregnancy can cause a variety of other oral health problems, such as:

  • Cavities, also known as dental caries; mothers may pass the bacteria that causes cavities onto their unborn babies, which can cause the children problems later in life
  • Gum disease
  • Loose teeth
  • Harmless lumps on the gum tissue, known incorrectly as pregnancy tumors, although they are not cancerous; can be caused by plaque on the teeth
  • Tooth erosion – vomiting from morning sickness can expose teeth to too much stomach acid, which can eat away at tooth enamel

How to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy During Your Pregnancy

Brush and floss

Brush your teeth twice a day and floss between teeth daily. Brushing and flossing can remove plaque.

Drink plenty of water

Water dilutes acid from food, beverages, or morning sickness before it can damage your tooth enamel. Swishing water around in your mouth can also rinse away bacteria that contribute to the development of plaque. For best results, drink fluoridated water to strengthen your tooth enamel and protect your teeth from cavities.

Chew sugar-free gum

Chewing gum after meals can be good for your teeth, as it stimulates the flow of saliva to rinse away food particles, acid, and bacteria. Gum can also help remove food stuck between teeth, before it has a chance to cause problems. For best results, chew gum that contains xylitol, which is a type of sweetener that can inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Eat healthy foods

Vegetables, fruits, lean meats, beans and nuts can provide your body with the nutrients it needs to keep your teeth (and your baby) healthy.

Reduce your sugar intake

Eat fewer sugary foods, such as candy, cookies, and sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead, choose low-sugar fruits, vegetables, unsweetened yogurt, and cheese. Be sure to read food labels, which can help you choose low-sugar foods.

Manage morning sickness

If you struggle with morning sickness, which is nausea and vomiting that can actually happen at any time of day, try to avoid foods that make you feel nauseated and stick with items that are easy to digest. Try eggs, chicken, chilled fresh fruit, fruit smoothie, vegetables, and ice pops.

If you vomit, rinse your mouth with a solution containing one teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water. The solution neutralizes the acid to protect your teeth.

Visit your Mentor OH dentist regularly

If you have not seen a dentist in the past 6 months or if you are having dental issues, make an appointment to see one as soon as possible. Your dentist can spot small problems early and treat them before they become big problems, and nobody needs unnecessary big problems during pregnancy.

Oral healthcare during pregnancy is safe. This means you can get the x-rays, pain medication, local anesthesia, and other dental services you need from your dentist.

For more tips for keeping your teeth healthy during pregnancy, make an appointment with Great Lakes Dental. Our dentist in Mentor OH has the training and experience to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy during your pregnancy and afterwards. We are also glad to provide oral care for your child’s teeth for a lifetime of great smiles!