A Mother’s Healthy Smile Means A Happy and Healthy Baby

It’s important to take care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy and one of those things you need to take extra care of is your teeth. Dr. Michelle Kimura answers the top questions most expectant moms have when it comes to taking care of their teeth during prengnacy. 

What can I do to make sure my child will have healthy teeth?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) strongly recommends that children visit a pediatric dentist when their first tooth comes in, and no later than their first birthday. An early start at the dentist is definitely key in ensuring a lifetime of healthy smiles. More importantly, your own dental health during pregnancy could potentially affect the future dental health and overall well being of your child.

How can my own dental health affect my baby?

Untreated oral disease can compromise the health of mom and her unborn baby. Some studies have shown that women with certain forms of gum disease are at an increased risk for having pre-term and low weight babies. In addition, pregnant women with untreated cavities tend to have a higher number of cavity causing bacteria in their mouths. This bacteria can be spread to the baby as early as birth. Improving your oral health before or during pregnancy can greatly reduce the passing of cavity causing bacteria to your child.

How can pregnancy affect my dental health?

Studies have shown that over 50% of Americans have some form of gum disease. Because of hormonal changes during pregnancy, you may notice your gums appearing redder, more swollen, and bleed even more than usual when you brush and floss. This condition is known as Pregnancy Gingivitis. It can be successfully controlled and treated with diligent home care, and by regular dental cleanings and checkups throughout your pregnancy. In addition to gum disease, pregnant women are at an increased risk for developing cavities.

Why is my cavity risk higher during pregnancy?

Frequent vomiting from morning sickness can erode tooth enamel. After each episode, rinsing with a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda is recommended. Avoid brushing until an hour after vomiting to minimize erosion from the stomach acids. Your dentist can also fabricate fluoride trays or prescribe special formulated toothpastes to help combat tooth erosion and associated tooth sensitivity. Hormonal changes can also decrease saliva flow and lead to dry mouth. Saliva has protective factors against cavities. With a decrease in saliva production, using an alcohol free fluoride rinse on a daily basis is highly recommended. In addition, drinking more water and chewing a sugarless xylitol gum can alleviate dry mouth and neutralize cavity causing acids. Lastly, changes in your diet, including more frequent snacking, can lead to cavities. Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is key to a successful pregnancy. Healthy snacks such as fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese and yogurt are excellent choices. Foods high in vitamins C, B12, and calcium are great for healthy gums. Stay away from sticky sweet foods like dried fruits, fruit leathers, and even gummy vitamins. Drink plenty of water, and avoid beverages high in acid and sugar like soda and juice.

Is it safe to see the dentist during pregnancy?

Absolutely! All pregnant women should see a dentist during their first trimester to ensure they start off on the right track. Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of dental disease with the use of necessary dental X-rays, and local anesthesia, are highly beneficial any time throughout pregnancy. To combat pregnancy gingivitis, your dentist may even recommend the use of a special diode laser in conjunction with routine cleanings. This cutting edge laser is safe and effective as it kills the gingivitis causing bacteria without the need for antibiotics or chemicals.

How often should I see my dentist during pregnancy?

At your initial dental visit during your first trimester, your dentist will thoroughly review your medical and dental history with you. After completing a comprehensive evaluation of your dental needs, and considering any risk factors, your dentist will devise an individualized dental plan for you.

How often should I brush and floss?

You should brush twice daily for 2 minutes each time- in the morning after breakfast and at night before bed. An electric toothbrush works great because it does all the necessary work for you, and most have timers. Flossing is best done at bedtime before you brush. Follow up with a fluoride mouth rinse.


Image via Flickr User Sean Dreilinger