Oral health: The Sensible Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
Taking care of your teeth and gums is very important when you are pregnant. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase your risk of developing periodontal(gum and bone) disease. Poor oral health may also affect the health of your developing baby.
Pregnant women with periodontal disease may have a higher risk of delivering a pre-term or low birth weight baby
Babies who are pre-term or have a low birth weight have a higher incidence of developmental complications, asthma, ear infections, birth abnormalities, behavioural difficulties and a higher risk of infant death.
Eating well is important for your oral health
It can also help to build strong teeth and bones in your developing baby. During pregnancy, you need to eat the right kinds of food and in the right amounts - making sure to get enough calcium, vitamins A, C and D, as well as protein and phosphorous. Taking a multivitamin can help.
Regular dental checkups and cleanings by your dental professional are the best ways to detect and prevent periodontal disease
Schedule a checkup in your first trimester to have your teeth cleaned and your oral health assessed. If you require dental work, the best time to schedule it is between the fourth and sixth month of your pregnancy (the second trimester). X-rays of your mouth should only be taken in an emergency.
Morning sickness can cause tooth decay
Stomach acid left on the teeth can damage the surface of your teeth and promote tooth decay. If you vomit, rinse your mouth with water or with a fluoride mouthwash as soon as you can afterward.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft toothbrush using a fluoride toothpaste. Carefully clean your teeth at the gum line, where gum disease starts. Don't forget to floss!
If you're not sure if you are brushing and flossing correctly, talk to your dental professional. He or she can show you how, so you can care for your teeth and gums properly.
Be sure to continue with routine dental check-ups during and after your pregnancy.
Given the important connection between healthy eating and oral health, follow Canada's Food Guide.
Common Questions About Oral Health
Will it hurt my teeth if I eat between meals?
No. It's good for pregnant women to eat healthy snacks between meals so they can meet their daily nutritional needs. Just try to avoid soft, sweet and sticky snacks that are high in carbohydrates and sugar. And remember to clean your teeth after snacking to prevent cavities.
Is it safe to have an x-ray while I'm pregnant?
It is a good idea to avoid routine dental x-rays while you're pregnant. In the event of a dental emergency, however, an x-ray may be essential. If this happens, your dental professional will shield your abdomen with a lead apron to protect your baby from exposure to radiation.
Why do my gums keep bleeding?
Hormone changes during pregnancy can affect the gums, making them more sensitive and inflamed in response to bacteria along the gum line. This can lead to red, swollen gums that bleed easily. "Pregnancy gingivitis" often appears between the third and ninth month of pregnancy. Gently brushing along the gum line when you brush your teeth can help tender, bleeding gums. Gum problems usually disappear after childbirth. If they continue, contact your dental professional.
I've heard that a woman loses one tooth for every pregnancy. Is this true?
No. The calcium needed to make your baby's teeth comes from what you eat not from your own teeth. If you do not take in enough calcium to meet your baby's needs, your body will provide this mineral from the calcium of your bones. Eating enough dairy products and - if necessary - taking a calcium supplement, will ensure both you and your baby will have enough of this mineral without putting your bones at risk.
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