Free up some time in your calendars, moms-to-be! The OB-GYN visits may be coming fast and furious, but believe it or not, there's someone else you need to be seeing to protect your health and that of your baby: your dentist.
All the changes that come with your rapidly growing bump — and perhaps some common, yet misplaced fears — may tempt you to put a nine-month hold on your next dental checkup, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Take these proactive steps to protect your teeth, gums and child from pregnancy-related dental complications.
1. Keep your dentist in the loop
The sooner you share the news of your pregnancy with your dentist, the better. Certain medications used in-office or prescribed for at-home use are not recommended for pregnant women, and your updated health status may alter your dentist's treatment plan and overall approach. If possible, let your dentist know about your intention to grow your family in advance. This way any oral problems and/or elective dental procedures (along with X-rays typically required) can be taken care of before pregnancy is even a factor to consider. If a situation does arise that requires dental work while you're pregnant, the second trimester is the most ideal time to have dental work done.
2. Be diligent with your home dental routine
Additional calorie requirements, common pregnancy cravings and even morning sickness can put expectant mothers at an increased risk of tooth decay. You can help keep cavities at bay by making these simple changes to your routine:
- Choose sugar-free gum or candy (in moderation) if you crave something sweet
- Brush and floss more frequently, especially if you find yourself snacking more
- Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after a bout of vomiting
- Try a blander type of toothpaste if your typical choice becomes nauseating
Self-exams also become more important during pregnancy. Check your teeth and gums regularly, and schedule an appointment if you detect any cavities or gum abnormalities.
3. Get your dentist's help for Hormone-related dental problems
While there are plenty of preventative actions you can take at home, some of the most common dental problems pregnant women face are hormonally driven and require the professional care of your dentist. "Pregnancy Gingivitis" is one such condition in which increased blood flow to the gums can result in tenderness, swelling, bleeding, or if left untreated, severe periodontal disease. Many moms-to-be may also discover mulberry-shaped growths along the gumline typically referred to as "pregnancy tumors" (though they are benign). While they usually go away after giving birth, removal by a dentist may sometimes be necessary.
4. Remain vigilant about your oral health after giving birth
Finally, keep a close eye on your teeth and gums even after pregnancy. With all the time and attention you need to give your newborn, this is often easier said than done, but maintaining your oral health at this stage can minimize the risk of transmitting harmful oral bacteria to your child.
For more information and guidance on proper dental care during pregnancy, schedule a consultation with your dentist. He or she can adjust your treatment plan to maintain your oral health while being sensitive to your needs and concerns.
Dental Care and Pregnancy. (2014, June 4). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/dental-care-pregnancy
Is Having Dental Work During Pregnancy Safe? (2014 January). Retrieved May 25, 2015 from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/dental-work-and-pregnancy/
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