Sunday, May 14, is Mother’s Day. To mark the occasion, we’re sharing six helpful tips for soon-to-be parents about the importance of oral health during their pregnancy.
1 -Tell your dentist you’re pregnant and don’t skip your next visit.
You should tell your dentist you are pregnant at the first dental visit you have after finding out you are pregnant. It is part of your medical history. The Public Health Agency of Canada suggests you should be examined by your dentist during your first trimester. The dentist is your best source of advice on maintaining your best oral health and can manage some of the side effects your hormones may cause during pregnancy.
2 – Hormones will affect your oral health
Hormone levels change considerably during pregnancy. The most common thing dentists notice in pregnant patients is that their gums can become inflamed and bleed more easily. Ensuring you keep a regular schedule can help reduce inflammation that can occur.
If you continue to have problems with your gums post-birth, talk to your dentist.
3 – It’s safe to get X-rays while pregnant.
Getting a dental X-ray while you are pregnant is safe, however, dentists will often avoid them except in the case of a dental emergency. Emergency care during pregnancy is safe and essential. If you do require X-rays, you will be shielded from the low dose of radiation by a lead apron.
4 – Morning sickness (vomiting) can cause problems with your teeth.
Stomach acid can damage the surface of your teeth and promote tooth decay. You should rinse with water after you throw up and not brush right away. Brushing right after vomiting can tend to brush the acids into the teeth. If the vomiting is severe, use a neutralizing rinse made by adding a quarter teaspoon of baking soda to room temp water, then swish and spit it out.
5 – Your oral health matters to the baby’s health
As mentioned earlier, pregnancy hormones can bring a lot of changes, which may affect your oral health. Evidence suggests there is a strong need to protect against gingivitis and gum disease, as well as decay problems. These problems can also affect the health of the baby, including having preterm and low birth weight babies. Recent science has indicated that periodontal disease/poor oral hygiene has been implicated as a risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm (premature) births and low birth weight, as well as even miscarriage and stillbirth.
6 – Take your baby to the dentist early in life.
Good oral health habits start early. Introduce your baby to the dentist early to get them used to routine check-ups. Develop and follow a good routine for the baby with good nutrition, mouth cleaning (even before the teeth start to erupt), and regular visits to the dentist.
This post was adapted from the Fall 2022/2023 edition of Smile Magazine.