From being overly emotional to increasingly irritable and even requesting odd combinations of food to satisfy cravings, these may seem like typical occurrences for most pregnant women. However, what you may not know is that you may also experience more serious dental problems during these nine months. If you’re not properly caring for your teeth and gums, it can have a negative impact on the fetus. Read on to hear from a children’s dentist in Casper who explains how problems like gum disease can result in preterm labor and low birth weight for your baby.
Why Pregnancy Increases the Risk for Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
If you’re pregnant, you will notice your body goes through various hormonal changes. As a result, your body will respond differently when plaque begins to accumulate on your teeth and gums, causing you to become more vulnerable to gum disease and tooth decay.
Even women who are diligent with their morning and nighttime oral hygiene rituals can become victims of these common dental issues. Apart from the hormonal changes you might experience, the following issues may also put you at greater risk:
- Morning sickness – The stomach acid generated can eat away at your tooth enamel and increase your risk for cavities.
- Frequent snacking – Depending on the foods you consume, the acids produced can wear down enamel and cause it to become weak over time.
- Exhaustion – As your pregnancy progresses, you will likely become more tired. As a result, you may be tempted to forgo brushing and flossing in the morning and at night. You might even find yourself reschedule dental appointments, too.
- Prenatal vitamins – When taking prenatals to support your baby’s health, avoid gummy vitamins, as they can stick to your teeth and often contain sugar, which can serve as a breeding ground for plaque-causing bacteria.
Your Oral Health and Your Baby
When problems like gum disease arise, the bacteria in your mouth can be easily transmitted into the bloodstream. When this happens, it can travel to various parts of the body, one area being the uterus. If this happens, it is possible you can go into preterm labor because of the increased production of prostaglandins, which are believed to be the culprit. If your baby is born too early, they will likely have a low birth weight and potentially experience various health conditions ranging from poor eyesight, hearing, or even cerebral palsy.
Ways to Maintain Better Oral Health During Pregnancy
To ensure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible while pregnant, make sure to follow your dentist’s recommendations. These can include:
- Increasing your calcium intake. This includes drinking milk or eating cheese or unsweetened yogurt. The additional calcium will strengthen bones and give your baby the nutrition he or she needs.
- Brushing your teeth twice daily and after every meal, when possible, for two full minutes using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Floss at least once a day, if not after every meal to remove harmful bacteria and food debris.
- Maintain a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, leafy greens, and dairy.
- Keep your regular dental appointments with your dentist to allow the professionals to clean your teeth and minimize the risk of gum disease and tooth decay more thoroughly.
By keeping these helpful tips in mind, you can enjoy a safer pregnancy and a healthier, happier baby.
About the Author
Dr. Roy Paulson is a board-certified pediatric dentist and has been practicing for more than 37 years. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery at Louisiana State University. Dr. Paulson and the team at Casper Children’s Dental Clinic want to ensure your child’s oral health is on the right path from the start. Because certain problems can occur in the womb as a result of a mother’s oral health, our team can provide helpful tips to avoid these risks. If you are pregnant and would like to learn more about what you can do to maintain better oral health during pregnancy, visit our website or call (307) 266-1997.