Why You Need a Prenatal Dental Care Checkup

There is a crib to build, and there are baby showers to attend, but preparing for the health of your baby is of the greatest importance. To ensure strong, sound teeth for your little one, scheduling a prenatal dental care checkup for yourself should top your to-do list.

Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby

A mother-to-be's oral health largely determines her child's dental future. Especially in view of changing hormone levels during pregnancy, it is time to take a closer look at your current dental health. The American Dental Association recommends continuing your regular oral health care routine unbroken throughout your pregnancy, including dental checkups and cleanings. Upon learning of your pregnancy, plan your first dental health checkup. Schedule a second prenatal dental health check in six months.

Pregnant women should also:

  • Brush teeth upon waking and again at bedtime using fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between the teeth with floss or mouthwash at least once a day.
  • Practice healthy eating habits by limiting sugary, processed foods and by choosing fresh produce instead.
  • Reduce the number of snacks between meals.

Oral Concerns

When you are pregnant, address medical concerns immediately, including toothaches. What seems to be just a minor annoyance could turn into an oral infection that can spread throughout your body and to your baby. Do not wait for your next checkup to address oral concerns. Call your dentist right away. The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Policy Center reminds women that it is not uncommon for gums to swell during pregnancy. This can lead to gingivitis and, if not treated, periodontal disease or tooth loss. X-rays, the use of local anesthesia and some pain medications are safe during pregnancy, according to the center, so there is no excuse to avoid prenatal dental care.

Good Health Practices

Prevent oral concerns by being proactive during your pregnancy. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months (or sooner if the bristles are frayed), do not share the toothbrush with anyone and use an alcohol-free mouthwash. If you are battling morning sickness, take a few minutes to swish your mouth with a baking soda-water mixture after vomiting. Just 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water will prevent stomach acids from damaging the enamel on your teeth.

You want the best for your baby, so don't skimp on your oral health. Maintaining a relationship with your dentist is just as important as scheduling OB-GYN appointments.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions During PREGNANCY

To help minimize any risks during pregnancy, here is some general advice and some common conditions to be on the lookout for:

  1. Gum disease – during pregnancy, teeth and gums need special attention. Regular tooth brushing twice daily, flossing once daily, eating a balanced diet and visiting the dentist regularly will help reduce dental problems that accompany pregnancy.

  2. Enamel erosion – for some women, morning sickness is a major symptom of pregnancy. Along with the nausea comes additional acid that, if left in your mouth, can erode your teeth. Be sure to rinse your mouth out with water or with a fluoride mouthwash to keep the acid level under control.

  3. Dry mouth – pregnancy dry mouth can put women at a greater risk for problems such as tooth decay and infections. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and chew sugarless gum to enhance production of saliva.