5 easy ways to maintain the best oral health during pregnancy

Pregnancy is such an exciting time. Especially if it is your first pregnancy.

Because you have no idea what you are doing or what to expect, You buy the books and download the apps so that you will know what to expect for the next nine months.

Then, you make your doctors appointment. You listen to everything the nurse has to say and you follow all of the handouts and guides that your doctor gave you.

You just neglected one thing. Your mouth.

Being pregnant causes your body to change quite a bit.

With the changes in hormones due to pregnancy comes changes in your mood, diet, and gums. These changes can lead to potentially more cavities and gum disease.  All of which can be harmful to your baby.

5 easy ways to maintain the best dental health during pregnancy

Changes in mood

Being pregnant causes your hormones to get a little goofy at times. You may notice yourself crying when you watch The Little Mermaid or easily agitated because morning sickness has you feeling terrible.

Because of these changes in mood, you may reach for food for comfort or just snack more frequently.

During pregnancy, do you notice that you reach for food for comfort or just snack more frequently?Click To Tweet

Be careful with snacking frequently. Especially snacking on foods high in carbohydrates and sugar. These snacks increase your risk of getting a cavity.

I have heard so many times women tell me “I never had any cavities and then I got pregnant and had my son/daughter and I got 5 cavities!”

Mood change with pregnancy can alter your diet. Sometimes, this happens in a negative way that make you more prone to cavities.

How cavities form

Many times people think it is the sugar that is causing the cavities, but it is actually the bacteria in your mouth that is the culprit.

There are bacteria in your mouth that enjoy the tasty foods just as much as you do. When the bacteria consume whatever you have eaten, they produce acid as a by-product. The acid is what destroys the tooth structure and causes cavities.

The more frequently you snack on foods that are high in carbs and sugars, the more frequently this process happens. Which leaves you vulnerable to more cavities.

Frequently snacking on foods that are high in carbs and sugars makes you vulnerable to more cavities. Try incorporating more foods high in protein and fiber.Click To Tweet

Imagine you usually have a snack maybe twice a day before you got pregnant. After being a few months pregnant you find yourself with the munchies and have a snack 4-6 times a day. Having multiple snacks a day are also making the bacteria in your mouth have a party and wreak havoc on your teeth!

If you feel the need to have snacks a little more frequently, reach for a snack that is high in protein and fiber and low in carbs and sugar. A few of my favorite examples are cheese, yogurt, and leafy greens.

If you are consuming these foods they are less likely to start the process of a cavity on your teeth. Which will make you a lot happier when you go the dentist and hear you don’t have any cavities.

For more examples of foods to avoid and foods that are good for your teeth, enter your information below for my free guide.

 

A different diet

Morning sickness can be rough at times. I remember when I first got pregnant all I could seem to keep down was yogurt and hot dogs. Not your balanced diet … I know.  Now I hate hotdogs!

Morning sickness can make keeping food down difficult. Hot dogs and yogurt is not a balanced diet. I know.Click To Tweet

With the changes in your appetite come changes in your diet.

There are some women that I have met that seem to only want those foods like crackers and cookies. Remember, the frequent carbs and sugary foods increase the chances of cavities.

Changes in your diet during pregnancy can make you more prone to cavities.

Puffy or tender gums

If you have healthy gums before being pregnant, you may notice that your gums bleed more.

This is what dentist call pregnancy gingivitis. Pregnancy gingivitis is inflammation of the gums during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, there is an increase in hormones and blood flow which makes it a lot easier to get gingivitis. The good news is that after the pregnancy, your hormones will return to normal and so will your gums.

Don’t be quick to write off pregnancy gingivitis.  If the gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress even after pregnancy.

Gingivitis is directly related to the plaque on your teeth. The plaque is the soft, white or colorless film that forms on your teeth. Plaque harbors the bacteria that we talked about that cause cavities and irritates your gums.

This is why it is so important to brush your teeth daily because plaque is constantly being produced in your mouth every day.

It is so important to brush daily because plaque is constantly being produced. This is even more important when you are pregnant.Click To Tweet

Gum disease

You have to be careful not to overlook your gums. Gingivitis can lead to gum disease.

Gum disease is a much more serious problem to have because it causes the destruction of your jaw bone and eventually leads to tooth loss.

If you have gum disease and you are pregnant, you don’t want to miss your dentist appointment.

Gum disease is similar to high blood pressure or diabetes. It appears to be silent then all of a sudden major things start to go wrong when it gets out of control.

This is not something to take lightly as gum disease increases the risk of low birth weight or preterm birth.

Gum disease is prevalent the US and my hope is that in 2018 there will be major advancements in the treatment of gum disease.

5 tips for the best oral health during pregnancy

Are you ready to decrease the chances of cavities and keep gum disease at bay? Try to implement these 5 easy tips during your pregnancy.

Make a trip to see your dentist

Your OB-GYN may not mention it, but you still need to see your dentist during your pregnancy for your regular checkup and cleaning.

When you go to the dentist office, Let the staff and the dentist know that you are pregnant as there are some special precautions that they need to take. Also, let your dentist know if you are experiencing red, swollen, or tender gums.

Good oral hygiene

Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. Remember to use products with the ADA seal of acceptance. These products have been tested to be safe and effective.

Good oral hygiene is imperative during pregnancy. Remember to brush and floss daily.

Dental treatment

If you have dental treatment that needs to be done (i.e. fillings), don’t put it off. Most times you can get your dental treatment done while you are pregnant with clearance from your OB-GYN. If your dentist told you that you have a cavity before you got pregnant, there is a chance that that cavity is going to get bigger during your pregnancy.

Bigger cavities mean big treatment with bigger price tags. Get your dental treatment done early before those cavities get big.Click To Tweet

Bigger cavities mean big treatment with bigger price tags.

I have seen many women that are pregnant with a lot of pain because of a toothache. Typically what happened is there was a cavity that finally got big and started making itself know through unbearable pain.

When you are pregnant, there are limited medications that you can take for safety reasons for the baby. As a result, all of the women I have seen were miserable because the only thing that they could take for pain is Tylenol which doesn’t touch the pain most of the time.

Periodontal disease is prevalent in the US and my predication is that in 2018 there will be major advances in the treatment of this disease.

Snacking

Watch what you are snacking on and how frequently you are snacking. Remember, foods high in carbs and sugar can potentially cause more cavities. Stick with foods high in protein and fiber if you find yourself constantly hungry.

If you just can’t help yourself when it comes to the carbs, incorporate chewing gum after snacks. Chewing gum helps stimulate saliva that helps wash away food and brings mouth back to a healthy pH.

If you can, use a gum like Trident that has xylitol and the ADA seal. Xylitol is a natural sugar that helps prevent cavities in addition to stimulating salvia.

Morning sickness

Morning sickness can cause frequent vomiting. Make sure to rinse with water or a fluoride mouth rinse after vomiting.

 

Pregnancy is a fun time that will cause a lot of changes to your mood, diet, and gums. Be cautious when snacking. Always choose the snacks high in fiber and protein over the snacks high in carbs and sugar.

If you maintain your dental appointments and good oral hygiene, you will set yourself and your baby up for a healthy journey.

With lots of love,

Dr Toni

Comments

  1. Lindsay

    Great tips!!! While this baby shop is CLOSED for business- I know some mamas that will benefit!

  2. Laura Ketchie

    This is so true! I have seen my dentist regularly all my life. During my pregnancy I developed a toothache and a few months later, bam!, abscessed tooth. No one wants a root canal shortly after having a baby. I cannot stress oral health during pregnancy enough. (Even with taking precautions, I ended up with a root canal. I can’t imagine what my mouth would have been like without regular visits and cleaning.) Great article, Dr. Toni!

    1. Thanks Laura! It surprises me sometimes to see how quickly a toothache can progress into an abscessed tooth. There have been times that I predict that a tooth will access soon and it doesn’t. Then I will see a tooth that I think has a little more time ends up getting an abscess the next day! Teeth are interesting. Regular visits help a bunch. I know that having to go through a root canal is not ideal, but now that tooth is stable and there is no infection. Which is great. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Tanya Gioia

    I wish I had had this 12 years ago! I bled and bled and bled all through nursing and preg!

    1. I know that was no fun. 🙁 Hopefully, now things are back to normal and you don’t have bleeding gums.

  4. Yolonda @ yolomommy.com

    Very informative! I shared this with my two pregnant friends.

  5. Kasia

    Oh wow these are good tips. I knew things change in your body during pregnancy but yes you can’t forget about your teeth and gums. I worked with a Periodontist so I know how important dental health is. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, definitely. I am sure you saw first hand the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to gums. It is so easy to think that its ok and things progress even after pregnancy. Thanks for stopping by!

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