Oral health is important at all stages of life, but particularly during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant are at a higher risk of health complications across the board, including gestational diabetes, anemia, depression and anxiety, preeclampsia, and high blood pressure.
If you are pregnant, you are likely working hand-in-hand with your physician to safeguard against these complications: but what about your oral health? Are you working with your dentist to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible throughout your pregnancy?
Many women tend to forget that their tooth and gum health is also at high risk during pregnancy. Keeping up with oral health is important to ensure that both you and your child have a clean bill of health—before and after childbirth. In the sections below, we’ll talk about the specific oral health risks that pregnant women should be aware of and give you some tips on how to avoid them for a safe, healthy pregnancy!
Oral Health Risks for Pregnant Women
The most common oral diseases for pregnant women are gingivitis, tooth decay, and gum disease. Of course, just being pregnant does not immediately mean that you will develop an oral disease! This is typically a result of other factors during pregnancy, such as:
- Food cravings — Pregnancy cravings often include sweet foods, such as ice cream, chocolate, or even soft drinks. Increased intake of sugary foods can increase the risk of tooth decay and cavities.
- Changes in eating habits — Just as the type of foods that you eat when you are pregnant can change, so can your eating schedule. Morning sickness may make it impossible to eat in the morning, and late-night cravings could mean eating at odd hours. Failing to adjust your brushing and flossing schedule accordingly could make it easier to develop plaque or harmful bacteria, leading to decay and gum disease.
- Vomiting — Morning sickness affects anywhere between 70 to 80 percent of women during pregnancy. Nausea may make it difficult to brush your teeth in the morning, while vomiting can erode your enamel through stomach acid. The enamel is the protective coating around your teeth and protects against decay and plaque buildup.
- Increased hormone production — As hormones fluctuate throughout pregnancy, they may have an impact on your ability to fight off infection. This is why pregnant women often develop periodontal disease (i.e., infection and swelling of the gums). Periodontal disease may play a role in low birth weights or preterm births and increases the chances that your child will be born with a predisposition for periodontal disease later on in life.
Keep Your Mouth Healthy During Pregnancy
Keeping up with your oral health during pregnancy is essential—not only for your own oral health but for your child’s, too. Here are some simple, easy tips that you can use to make sure your mouth is in tip-top shape throughout your pregnancy.
- For nausea while brushing, use a child’s toothbrush and brush in small, slow circles. Try changing your brand of toothpaste if the flavor or scent is triggering nausea.
- Rinse your mouth with fluoridated water or a mouthwash to keep harmful bacteria at bay.
- Don’t brush your teeth immediately after vomiting; wait up to an hour for the acid to dissipate to avoid scratching your enamel.
- If you can’t brush your teeth, drink water and swish it around your mouth immediately after a late-night snack.
- Increase your vitamin D and calcium intake during pregnancy to boost bone health.
Finally, make sure to maintain a regular checkup schedule with your dentist to promote good oral health and resolve any small problems as soon as possible. Your dentist is there to help you throughout every stage of life—including pregnancy!
To learn more about dental healthcare during pregnancy, reach out to the TruBlu Dentistry team! We’ll help you develop the best at-home routine to ensure that your mouth is as healthy as possible throughout your pregnancy.