The Big Picture
During pregnancy, the most important things a woman can do for herself and her baby are to pay attention to her general health and follow the advice of her health care professionals. The most important things a pregnant woman can do for her oral health are to brush and floss daily and see a dentist early in the pregnancy for a checkup.
Oral Care for Expectant Mothers
It is not unusual for pregnant women to develop sore and bleeding gums. This can usually be prevented, or at least lessened, with daily brushing and flossing. A visit to the dentist is also important because the woman may have cavities or gum disease that require treatment. Most dentists prefer not to take x-rays or do complicated treatments in the first trimester. And, because it may be uncomfortable to lie in the dental chair in the last trimester, the second trimester is usually the best time for dental treatment.
Mother’s Oral Health Can Affect Baby
New research shows that the more unfilled cavities a mother has, the more cavity-causing germs she may have. These cavity-causing germs could be passed on to baby once he/she arrives, through daily contact such as sharing food and letting baby stick her fingers in her mother’s mouth. This is an important reason to have any cavities filled before the baby is born. Since mother shares blood with the unborn baby, any infection of the mouth – such as a cavity or periodontal (gum) disease -can affect the baby. There is also growing evidence showing the relationship between periodontal disease of the mother and potential risk of low birth weight, preterm birth.
Diet is Important, Too
As for diet, there are important things to remember. Pregnant women should avoid snacking on soda pop, sweets and starchy snacks because they can cause cavities. Also, understand that baby’s teeth are already forming and this requires an adequate supply of calcium. (It would, however, take a serious calcium deficiency to cause harm to the baby teeth.) Calcium is found in milk, cheese, yogurt, dried beans, and leafy green vegetables.
- Get a dental checkup
- Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss daily
- Limit sweet and starchy snacks
- Seek pre-natal care
- Get adequate calcium