Oral Health During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a wonderful and exciting time. While your family is going to go through some big changes, so is your body; and I am not just talking about your belly. In fact, during pregnancy your mouth changes as well. The health of the mouth can be affected by pregnancy and in turn your baby’s health can be affected.
During pregnancy your body is on high alert for anything it deems potentially harmful to your baby since you share everything with your baby. The most common is the inflammation of the gum tissue, also known as pregnancy gingivitis. Gingivitis may result from your body’s defense system to the bacteria in the gum tissue. The tissue may appear red, puffy, and can bleed easily while brushing and flossing. Another thing that is harmful to your baby is cavities. Cavities are more likely to form during pregnancy due to the increased snacking, acid inside your mouth due to vomiting, or poor oral hygiene caused from nausea and vomiting. Erosion is the last dental concern caused by vomiting. To help avoid erosion on the teeth it is important not brush immediately after vomiting. Instead rinse with water mixed with baking soda (1 cup water to 1 tsp baking soda) to help neutralize the acid.
There are many things to avoid during pregnancy, but staying away from your dentist is not one of them. The American Dental Association and The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that you should see your dentist and hygienist every 4 months to help remove bacteria under the gum tissue to keep the mouth healthy. There are even certain procedures such as extractions, root canals, and fillings that can be performed during pregnancy. Prolonging doing these procedures may result is more complex problems that can affect the baby. X-rays are considered safe during pregnancy. Most professionals avoid taking unnecessary X-rays such as cavity detecting X-rays unless there is an area of concern. Whitening the teeth is another thing to avoid during pregnancy. There is not enough research to say if there are harmful effects on the growing baby, but due to the chemicals used in bleaching trays. It is better to avoid using bleaching trays until after pregnancy and breast feeding.
Good home care is the most important thing you can do for you and your baby. Due to the increase in gingivitis and cavities it is recommended to brush twice daily with a soft-bristled tooth brush and floss once daily. Using a tooth paste that contains fluoride is important to help strengthen the teeth and minimize the effects of erosion. It is also recommended to have a topical fluoride treatment done at your dental visit as well to help strengthen the teeth.
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