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Oral Care and Pregnancy

Congratulations! You're going to be a mommy! It is very important to maintain good oral hygiene during your pregnancy to minimize plaque buildup and prevent the development of gum disease. Continue your regular dental visits to keep your teeth and gums healthy. It is equally important to eat a well-balanced diet and to snack healthy.

Oral Care and Pregnancy

During pregnancy your teeth and gums require special attention because you may experience an increase in hormones, especially the hormone estrogen. Higher estrogen levels may increase the amount of plaque buildup on your teeth which can cause gingivitis. "Pregnancy gingivitis", which is caused by the estrogen increase, may occur more often during the second trimester. Gingivitis, if left untreated, can lead to the development of a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis.

  • In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place.
  • In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form "pockets" that are infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body's enzymes fighting the infection actually start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and connective tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.

Eat a Well-Balanced Diet and Snack Healthy

Remember, you are eating for two! Good nutrition during pregnancy is very important for the development of baby teeth. Nutritional deficiencies can cause problems such as poor enamel formation, increased susceptibility to cavities, delayed dental eruptions, and small tooth size. Eat a well-balanced diet with enough protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and D.

  • Calcium: Aids in the formation of teeth and bones.
  • Phosphorus: Needed for energy, metabolism, and healthy bone development.
  • Vitamin A: Needed for gingival health and important for maintaining the mucous membranes of the mouth.
  • Vitamin C: Needed for periodontal and gingival health.
  • Vitamin D: Essential for healthy bones, teeth, and jaw growth.

When you snack, choose something without a lot of sugar or fat. There are lots of tasty, filling snacks that are less harmful to your teeth than foods loaded with sugars and low in nutritional value. Also, remember to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after snacks and meals.

Oral Care Tips

  • It is best to treat any oral health problems before becoming pregnant.
  • Schedule a visit for a dental exam and cleaning prior to becoming pregnant or in your second trimester (months 4-6) if you are already pregnant.
  • Continue your regular dental visits to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Regular dental exams and cleanings can be done safely at any time during your pregnancy.
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet and snack healthy.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption.
  • Do not use tobacco products (i.e., smoking, spit tobacco, etc.)
  • Brush at least twice a day.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Elective (non-emergency) procedures can be performed safely during your pregnancy, but it may best to postpone treatment until after the birth of your baby.
  • Should a dental emergency arise during pregnancy, it is best to render treatment in the most conservative manner possible to alleviate the problem.
  • Dental x-rays should be avoided and taken only for emergency treatment as needed
  • Do not use tetracycline class medications while pregnant or nursing.

All Rights Reserved. Last Reviewed August 2005

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