Some of the craziest times in a woman’s life are when she is pregnant, and after she has delivered her baby. “Pregnancy brain” can contribute to all kinds of problems like forgetfulness, and wondering (half-way through the day) did I brush my teeth this morning? And after the baby is born it can be hard enough to remember to brush your hair, let alone brush your teeth. But that’s why dental care during (and after) pregnancy is so important.
Many, many women complain of getting cavities either while pregnant or during the first few months postpartum. Sometimes it is the first cavity in their lives.
There are a lot of changes that happen in a woman’s body with pregnancy. They deal with hormone fluctuations, morning sickness, heartburn, and acid reflux. New moms also have a lot happening in their daily routines, and face hormonal changes with lactation. Sometimes these changes can affect their oral hygiene routine. And both groups of women could also notice changes in their diets and new cravings for more sugar-laden foods. An article from U.S. News & World Report, mentions that fluctuation in hormone levels, a decreased antimicrobial capacity in a pregnant woman’s saliva, and food cravings/aversions can all contribute to a greater number of cavities and a decline in oral health for both pregnant and postpartum women.
Some women may notice that their gums look more red, and may possibly bleed when they brush their teeth while pregnant (sometimes referred to as Pregnancy Gingivitis). Some have also reported severe sweeping and bleeding. Other issues could include Pregnancy Granuloma (red nodules found on the gums), tooth erosion, dry mouth, and excessive saliva.
The American Dental Association recommends some ways to maintain a healthy teeth while pregnant:
- Keep brushing with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste, two times each day.
- Floss every day.
- Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Snack in moderation. Avoid sugary foods. Drink water regularly, and avoid juice, fruit-flavored drinks, and soft drinks.
- Visit your dentist on a regular basis to get a professional cleaning and check-up. Make sure you tell your dentist’s office if you are pregnant, or have noticed any changes in the health of your mouth.
- Avoid X-rays.
- Your dentist may recommend an anti-microbial mouthwash.
- If morning sickness is affecting you, the ADA says to try rinsing with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water to keep stomach acid from causing damage to your teeth.
Regular visits to your dentist are important, especially during pregnancy and after. Visit our Web site for more on the importance of regular dental visits.
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