Pregnancy is an exciting time in a family; one during which virtually no one is thinking about dental care. Moms-to-be have far more exciting things to think about than their teeth, like their growing bump, those breathing techniques they read about, and the baby shower they can’t wait to attend. While there are good reasons to focus on the various exciting aspects of pregnancy, oral health is something to keep in mind. Here, we discuss why, and also offer some tips on how to keep your smile healthy during pregnancy.
It Isn’t Just Your Belly that Changes
Most of the focus of pregnancy is given to the ever-expanding belly. The changes that aren’t seen – but are definitely felt – involve your hormones. Of course, you realize that your hormones will change dramatically while you’re pregnant, but you may not know what this entails. For a woman to be able to give birth, her body must become more flexible, joints and all. To accomplish this, the body produces more of a particular hormone that affects all soft tissues, making them softer and more moveable. This is good for childbirth but may not be great for your gums.
The softening of gum tissue during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of plaque buildup just beneath the gumline. The gums may also bleed more easily during pregnancy, though this doesn’t present the same concern as the potential for gingivitis and gum disease.
How to Manage Oral Health During Pregnancy
First and foremost, it is essential to know that dental care is not off-limits during pregnancy. After about 20 weeks, it is safe to see the dentist for a routine checkup. No x-rays are taken, and cleaning may or may not be performed. The objective of this appointment is to observe teeth and gums and recommend oral care strategies that can be implemented at home. Basic tips for a healthy pregnancy smile include:
- Stay vigilant with brushing. Morning and night-time brushing is vital to gum health. No extra brushing is needed during the day, even if morning sickness causes vomiting.
- Don’t skip the floss! Nighttime flossing is ideal because it sends you to bed with the cleanest mouth possible.
- Don’t just drink lots of water, also swish water across your teeth. Swishing water reduces the acidity caused by nausea and vomiting without potentially abrading enamel that is softer as a result of that acidity.
- Let crunchy fruits and vegetables do the cleaning for you. Fresh foods with a crunch are great for cleaning your teeth in between meals.
Do you have questions about oral health during pregnancy? Call our Palm Beach Gardens office. We’re happy to talk with you.