During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many changes. Unfortunately, the teeth and gums are no exception. Many mothers-to-be discover that pregnancy contributes to oral health problems such as gum disease, which increases the risk for low-birth-weight babies and giving birth to a preterm baby. The good news is, with a little extra care and attention, you can keep your mouth and baby healthy while you are expecting.
Here are some ways to keep gum disease at bay during pregnancy.
What Is Pregnancy Gingivitis?
During pregnancy, the rapid increase in hormones can make a woman’s gums more prone to infection. They may appear red, swollen and tender. Gums might also bleed easily during brushing and flossing. This is known as pregnancy gingivitis, which can cause advanced gum disease if not treated early. Gum disease not only leads to bone and tooth loss over time, it can also impact your baby’s health.
Preventing and managing signs of infected gums is critical to help maintain a healthy, full-term pregnancy:
How to Protect Your Oral Health During Pregnancy
- Brush and floss regularly. The best way to keep your teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy is to practice good oral hygiene. Brush at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste to remove debris and bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth. Don’t forget to floss daily to remove plaque buildup between the teeth and along the gum line.
- Follow a healthy diet. When you are pregnant, the foods you eat play a vital role for you and your baby. Be sure to consume plenty of essential nutrients and whole foods — including raw fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products. Similarly, limit sugar and processed foods that contribute to poor dental health.
- Combat morning sickness. If you are one of the unlucky women who experience morning sickness during pregnancy, take extra care of your teeth to prevent damage to your enamel caused by stomach acid. Neutralize acid in your mouth after vomiting by swishing with water or mouth rinse to help protect your teeth from erosion and decay. Once the acid buildup has been removed, it is safe to clean your teeth with a toothbrush.
- Visit your dentist regularly. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, be sure to let your dentist know immediately. Your dentist can offer oral health tips catered to expecting mothers to help keep your teeth and gums in optimal health throughout pregnancy. You may also be advised to postpone certain dental treatments and procedures until after your baby has arrived.
Watch closely for any changes to your gums during pregnancy, and report any bleeding, tenderness or swelling to your dentist. Your dentist can also watch for signs of gum disease and start treatment quickly to more effectively prevent serious problems.
Remember, gum disease can be harmful to you and your baby. Take the time to practice good oral hygiene, watch for signs of gum disease and visit your dentist for routine cleanings. Although pregnancy puts you at risk for oral health issues, it can be easy to help support a healthy pregnancy with proper oral care.