Moms-to-be are usually bombarded with how to take good care of their health, one tip after the other. Unfortunately though, few tips are about how to take care of their teeth during their pregnancy.
We all know that an expectant mother takes careful decisions since anything and everything she does can and may affect her baby. This is especially true when it comes to dental health.
Surprisingly, the most common old wives’ tale about teeth is completely untrue; you do not loose a tooth for each baby. Babies do not take out calcium from your teeth; their calcium intake is primary from your calcium consumption. When not enough, it is absorbed from your bones, not your teeth. Believe it or not, it is your teeth that can affect your unborn child and you!
Below are 5 facts to consider when you are pregnant.
Fact 1: Keep your mouth healthy. Research proves that the formation of baby teeth starts while in your womb. It is simple, if you have a healthy mouth, chances are your baby will too. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the ability of your baby’s teeth to resist decay depends to a large extent on the degree of their mineralization when formed. If an infection sets foot in your mouth this may in turn lead to poor mineralization of your babies teeth and will definitely increase his or her risk for dental decay later in life!
Fact 2: Pregnancy gingivitis. Between the second and eighth months of pregnancy you are at risk to develop what we call “pregnancy gingivitis”. It is a form of gum inflammation that is brought on by the gum becoming overtly sensitive to your hormonal changes.
How do you know if you have got gum disease? You may feel that your gums are a little swollen, or they may tend to bleed a lot or even they are tender for you to brush. Sometimes, gum disease keeps progressing to turn into a “pregnancy epulis”. A small swelling that affects the gum between your teeth. It is nothing serious, however, it is a cause for discomfort and a source of bleeding gums. Cleaning your gums at the dentist will help get this problem in order.
Fact 3: The Bacteria can reach your baby. When the gums are infected, the bacteria infecting the gum pocket can enter the bloodstream. Research is proving a link between gum bacteria invading the womb and your baby being born “preterm” and with a “low birth weight”.
It even gets more serious; another study estimated that 18 out of every 100 premature births may be caused by chronic gum diseases. Some serious medical problems, such as cerebral palsy or vision and hearing loss have been linked to severe gum infections in a pregnant mom.
Fact 4: Avoid damage to your enamel. Be careful, your risk for getting decay may change during pregnancy. This may happen if as part of the pregnancy you were drawn to eat more sweet treats or snacks. Another factor that may increase the risk for tooth decay is if you have been experiencing morning sickness that is stopping you from brushing your teeth properly.
Sadly, your teeth are at risk to be eaten away by the strong stomach acids associated with morning sickness. Therefore, it is advised to avoid brushing immediately after vomiting as the enamel is softer and can be damaged easily. It is enough to rinse with water or a smear of toothpaste over your teeth.
If brushing your teeth is still causing you nausea or vomiting, you can just change your toothpaste flavor or even use a toddler brush. Concentrate on breathing or distract yourself with TV or YouTube while brushing.
Fact 5: Don’t Panic visit the dentist. In general, you should visit your dentist often enough. Let them know that you are pregnant. The dentist will go over your needs for a healthy mouth and recommendations for treatment if you do require any.
In case you need dental x-rays, do not freak out as radiation from them is low and, according to the current guidelines by the American Dental Association, “it is more risky for a pregnant woman to postpone necessary dental treatment than to have an x-ray. This is because dental disease not treated during pregnancy can lead to problems for you and your unborn baby.” The dentist will give you the minimum number of x-rays needed for treatment.
It is best if you can undergo a full dental checkup when you are planning to get pregnant to make sure your mouth, gum and teeth are in great shape!
To sum it up, your oral health care during pregnancy is just as important as your overall health for your unborn baby. Keeping your mouth healthy and clean is easy and simple. Strictly follow your twice a day cleaning and don’t forget to floss. Throwing a fluoridated mouthwash in there can increase the level of protection to your teeth.
Get your teeth baby ready before or even during your pregnancy. You can avoid the many risks to your baby being born too early or too small; you can also protect yourself from pregnancy gingivitis, dental erosion and cavities, by seeing your dentist regularly and by following simple routine tools to keep your mouth happy and clean.
Praying for a safe delivery and healthy bundle of joy.
Dr. Yasmin Kottait DDS, HDD, MFDS Ed, MSc
A pediatric dentist with a special mission: spreading smiles to children wherever she goes.
Currently working in MyPediaClinic in Dubai Health Care City
Scientific Article Citations:
Shanthi et al, 2012. Association of pregnant women periodontal status to preterm and low-birth weight babies: A systematic and evidence-based review. Dent Res J (Isfahan). 2012 Jul-Aug; 9(4): 368–380. http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/pmcc/articles/PMC3491321/
American Dental Association.