Smile – you’re pregnant! But with so much of your attention centered on your belly during pregnancy, it’s easy to overlook your mouth – until it starts screaming for equal time, as frequently happens during pregnancy. For starters, pregnancy hormones aren’t kind to your gums– which, like your other mucous membranes, become swollen, inflamed, and tend to bleed easily. Those same hormones also make the gums more susceptible to plaque and bacteria, which can soon make matters worse in some women, possibly leading to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and even tooth decay.
Jan 25, 2011 3 Comments
To keep your mouth happy — and your smile safe — while you’re growing a baby:
1. Floss and brush regularly, and use toothpaste with fluoride for cavity protection. Brushing your tongue while you’re at it will also help combat bacteria while keeping your breathe fresher.
2. Ask your dentist to recommend a rinse to reduce bacteria and plaque, protecting your gums and your teeth.
3. When you can’t brush after eating, chew a stick of sugarless gum (the action of chewing increases the amount of saliva, which rinses the teeth – and if the gum’s sweetened with xylitol, chewing can actually help prevent decay). Or nibble on a chunk of hard cheese (it decreases the acidity in your mouth, and it’s the acid that causes tooth decay).
4.Watch, what you eat, particularly between meals. Save sweets (particularly sticky ones) for times when you can brush soon after. Consume plenty of foods high in vitamin C, which strengthens gums, reducing the possibility of bleeding. Also be sure to fill your calcium requirements daily. Calcium is needed throughout life to keep teeth strong and healthy.
5.Whether or not you’re experiencing dental discomfort, be sure to make an appointment with your dentist at least once during the nine months for a checkup & cleaning, preferably earlier than later. The cleaning is important to remove plaque, which can not only increase the risk of cavities but also make your gum problems worse. If you’ve had gum problems in the past, also see your periodontist during your pregnancy.
If you suspect a cavity or other tooth or gum trouble, make an appointment with your dentist or periodontist right away. Untreated gingivitis can develop into a more serious gum condition, periodontitis, which has actually beenassociated with a variety of pregnancy complications. Decay that isn’t cleaned up or other tooth issues that aren’t tended to can also become source of infections (and infection isn’t good for you or your baby) .
What happens if major dental work becomes necessary during pregnancy? Luckily in most dental procedure , a local anesthetic will suffice, and that’s safe. A low dose of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is also safe to use after the first trimester, but more serious sedation should be avoided during pregnancy. In some cases, it may be necessary to take an antibiotic before or after major dental work; check with your practitioner.