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Pregnancy And Dental Health: Foods to Eat

Many women don't know that dental health during pregnancy is something you need to keep on your radar, whether you're actively trying to become pregnant or are already expecting. One of the best ways to keep your teeth in tip-top shape during pregnancy is to have a solid oral hygiene routine, but diet can also play a significant role in ensuring optimal dental health while providing your baby with essential nutrients.

Read on to learn how common foods can help tackle the most common dental problems pregnant women face.

Why Is A Healthy Diet Important During Pregnancy?

The foods you eat also have a direct impact on your oral health. For example, the high sugar content in sweets, such as cookies and candies, can contribute to the development of cavities. Crunchy foods, such as chips, often get stuck in your teeth, which can also lead to cavities.

Extra snacking during pregnancy puts you at an increased risk for tooth decay, especially if those snacks are full of sugar or carbs. Choose healthy snacks and foods to take extra care of your pearly whites, fend off pesky plaque and give your body the extra nutrients it's craving!

How To Keep A Healthy Mouth During Pregnancy

Pregnancy hormones can make some women more prone to gum problems like gingivitis. Luckily certain nutrient-dense foods help boost your body's immune system and reduce inflammation.

  1. Make sure you're eating plenty of fruits like kiwis, strawberries, and oranges that are rich in vitamin C. This powerhouse vitamin can help boost immunity, strengthen blood vessels, and support collagen production (your gums need that!).
  2. Up your intake of vegetables such as sweet potatoes, kale, and broccoli for more beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.
  3. Eating foods high in omega-3s, like nuts and seeds, brussels sprouts and tofu may help your body better regulate inflammation.

Here are seven additional healthy foods to eat when pregnant:

  1. Vegetables

    Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, are natural sources of folate, which helps prevent severe congenital disabilities of the brain and spine and spina bifida. And, since vegetables are high in fiber and water, they can help to clean your teeth

  2. Fruit

    Citrus fruits, such as oranges, are a great source of folate, while cantaloupe and bananas contain vitamin B6, which can help reduce morning sickness. If you're looking for a hefty dose of vitamin B1 to boost your energy, grab some berries. Fruits are also great for your dental health because they, like vegetables, contain a lot of water and fiber.

  3. Low-Fat Dairy

    Products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, are rich in calcium. Your baby needs calcium to grow strong bones and teeth, promoting heart, muscle, and nerve development. Calcium also helps strengthen your tooth enamel. If you don't get enough calcium from your diet, your body will pull it from your bones for your baby's development.

  4. Lean Meats

    Iron helps your body make more blood and carry oxygen to your baby, so pregnant women need about twice the iron they usually require. Lean meats are also good sources of protein and phosphorous, which can help protect your tooth enamel.

  5. Fish

    Saltwater fish and seafood contain iodine, which is a mineral that many women don't get enough of during their pregnancy. Iodine plays an important role in brain development, and babies who don't get enough of this mineral may be born with brain damage or intellectual disabilities. During pregnancy, it's best to stick to fish with low mercury levels, such as salmon, shrimp, and catfish.

  6. Legumes

    Beans, peas, lentils, and other legumes are good sources of B vitamins, folate, and protein. While protein is important throughout your pregnancy, babies have higher protein needs past the first trimester.

  7. Whole Grains

    Carbohydrates found in whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat bread are your body's main energy source during pregnancy. They also have many nutrients, including iron and fiber. Some breads and cereals are fortified with added nutrients, too, such as folate.

Does Morning Sickness Cause Enamel Erosion?

Gastric reflux from morning sickness can damage your tooth enamel with strong stomach acids. Manage the pH in your mouth and encourage saliva production to keep your mouth healthy with these helpful foods:

  1. Bananas are a low-acidity, energy-dense snack that is easy on the stomach and can help replenish potassium lost due to vomiting.
  2. Chewing sugarless gum can help increase saliva and neutralize the acid in the mouth and throat.
  3. Milk and other dairy products are rich in calcium and can help neutralize acids to protect from enamel erosion.

Easy Snacks On-The-Go:

  1. Yogurt is a great snack because it's low in sugar and full of calcium, protein, and probiotics, all essentials for expectant mothers.
  2. Apples with cheese is a filling snack that satisfies your sweet tooth with the fruit's natural sugar and provides fiber, calcium, and protein.
  3. Almonds can be a lifesaver during pregnancy because you can stash them anywhere a snack emergency might strike. Not only are they full of vitamin E, magnesium, and tons of other good stuff, but they're also super filling (and a few dark chocolate-covered almonds never hurt anyone).

Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy is beneficial for both you and your baby's development. If you have any questions about what foods to eat when pregnant, talk to your OB-GYN or dental professional.

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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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