There’s a lot of information being fed to you when you find out you’re pregnant. The goal is not to lose sight of some of the most foundational aspects of what keeps you healthy, and what keeps the baby healthy. And, just like when you’re not pregnant, having a healthy mouth during pregnancy means more than just the health of your smile. Particularly when you’re pregnant, hormones can throw quite the wrench in some of the things that normally work for your body—and then all of a sudden, you’re dealing with sensitive gums and teeth that feel like they might fall out!
Here at Dr. Marchbank’s office, we wanted to compile a few informative bits and facts that can help you understand the implications of your preventative dental health care when you’re expecting.
We’d like to first point out the obvious: be sure to continue caring for your teeth as did before you found out about the baby! Brush twice a day, floss at least once a day, use fluoride toothpaste, use mouthwash, see your dentist regularly—and most definitely when you become pregnant. Pay special attention to your gum line, where the accumulation of bacteria and plaque can lead to gum problems and disease. Lastly, talk with your dentist about when to schedule a checkup during your pregnancy; the best time is usually during your second trimester.
Perhaps surprisingly, 1 in 5 premature births in the U.S. can be linked to (and predicted by) gum disease. Crazy, right? The best you can do to prevent this is to keep your routine consistent, even after a late-night craving is satisfied!
What’s more, even after birth, children are most susceptible to bacteria that can cause dental decay or gum disease from the age of 18-36 months, when moms tend to share cups or “clean” pacifiers and bottles with their own mouth. In general, it’s best to air on the safe side with sharing, as infections can occur at any time. Your baby’s teeth that develop in the womb include the roots and foundation of the teeth that will be with them for the rest of their life.
Be sure to maintain a balanced diet. Foods that are processed or sugary will increase your chances of developing gum disease and cavities—and you don’t want to have to undergo treatment while you’re busy getting ready for the baby. We all know, and absolutely understand, that snacking while pregnant will be part of the deal, so when you do have unusual food cravings, be sure to stay mindful to brush afterword…especially when snacking late at night and then going back to bed.
Outside of what’s taking place with your own teeth, you’ll want to consider the type of nutrients you are taking in for your child’s early-developing teeth. Your baby’s teeth begin to develop in the womb at 3-6 months, so sufficient quantities of vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium, folic acid and phosphorous help set your child up to have a healthy mouth for life. Without writing a whole other article on the topic, we suggest eating a variety of healthy foods, foods low in sugar and drinking a lot of water and milk as great ways to ensure a healthy baby and minimal calcium loss for your and baby’s teeth.
Morning sickness can be a very real experience for some women. And with that experience comes the unpleasant reality of vomiting. If this happens, be sure to only swish your mouth with water immediately after to rinse the acid out that enters your mouth, which can erode the enamel of your teeth and lead to tooth decay. Try to wait a good 20-30 minutes to brush with toothpaste, as rinsing and spitting with water can help neutralize acidity and brushing can actually press acid into your tooth enamel. Lastly, if the mere smell of your toothpaste is unthinkable, try a milder or different flavor, and if worse comes to worse use baking soda, water and a toothbrush until the sickness dissipates.
The first and third trimester are not always the best times to be seen by your dentist. The first trimester your baby is beginning to develop, and you don’t want to introduce any unneeded stress that could cause you trouble. The third trimester you are approaching giving birth, and you wouldn’t want to introduce stress that could cause you to go into premature labor. So, if you need to have any X-rays or (emergency only) dental work done, you’ll want to do it in your second trimester if possible.
The ADA (American Dental Association) and the ACOG (American College of Radiology) both agree that no single diagnostic x-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus, with appropriate shielding.1
Nothing is more miraculous or precious than waiting for your baby to come. And, for some, nothing could be scarier. Ensuring you are healthy during your pregnancy is the surest way to ensure your baby can be born healthy. And just as we here at Dr. Marchbank’s office say that the crux of your health begins in your mouth, we believe that the health of your baby begins with the health of your own mouth during pregnancy.