When you’re pregnant or a new mother, you have plenty to worry about. You’re probably aware of many aspects of your physical health, but you may not be paying much attention to your teeth. However, there can be long-term consequences of neglecting good dental hygiene habits during pregnancy.
Misconceptions About Dental Health for New Mothers
One common misconception about a pregnant mother’s dental health is that it’s dangerous to go to the dentist. Some people believe that X-rays and other dental procedures could harm the baby. In reality, dental care is just as important, if not more important, for pregnant women as it is for everyone else.
You should visit your dentist before or shortly after you become pregnant to make sure your teeth and gums are in good condition. You should also continue with your routine dentistry appointments and dental care during pregnancy.
Another common misconception is that your teeth lose calcium during pregnancy because your body needs the calcium to support the baby. Although your body does need plenty of calcium for the baby’s development, is isn’t true that it will take calcium from your teeth. However, it is important to get enough calcium in your diet during pregnancy. Most prenatal vitamins contain calcium, but your obstetrician will tell you if you need to take an additional supplement.
Dental Conditions to Watch Out For
Pregnant women tend to be at a higher risk for periodontal diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis. One study found that gingival inflammation was twice as common in pregnant women as it was in non-pregnant individuals.
During pregnancy, your body produces high levels of progesterone, which can increase the amount of acid in your mouth. If you notice red, swollen, or bleeding gums, this could be a sign of gingivitis. Visit your dentist right away if you notice these symptoms. Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a serious gum disease that destroys gum tissue and causes the gums to pull away from the teeth. Periodontitis is linked to low birth weight, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes mellitus.
You should also watch out for signs of tooth decay, including swelling, toothache, bad breath, and black or brown spots on your teeth. Tooth decay is especially common with pregnant mothers who experience morning sickness. When you vomit frequently, the acid can break down tooth enamel.
Breastfeeding mothers are also at an increased risk of tooth decay if they don’t brush and floss regularly and drink plenty of water. Cavity prevention is very important for new moms because it’s easy to transfer bacteria from a mother’s mouth to the baby’s mouth. Even something as simple as sharing a spoon could spread harmful bacteria from a cavity to the baby.
Nursing mothers should also watch out for teeth grinding, which can occur as a result of neck and facial tension after breastfeeding.
Good Dental Habits
The most important thing you can do to prevent gum disease, cavities, and other dental issues is to follow a healthy dental hygiene routine. Brush your teeth twice per day and floss once per day. Use a mouthwash after brushing to kill bacteria.
Staying hydrated will also lower your risk of developing cavities or other dental issues. Try to avoid sugars and starches as much as possible. If you do get cravings for sugary foods, brush your teeth immediately after eating them.
Don’t neglect routine dental appointments during your pregnancy. Cleanings, fillings, X-rays, and other dental procedures are safe to receive while you’re pregnant. With a new baby or a baby on the way, it may seem difficult to keep up with dental hygiene. You have plenty of other things on your mind, and brushing habits may seem less important than other worries. However, a pregnant mother’s dental health is important for her own health and her baby’s health, so it’s important to continue with a recommended twice yearly dental hygiene visit.