Today we’re talking about your prenatal dental care and the role it plays in a healthy pregnancy. We have a very special expert guest bringing you the inside scoop on three things you need to be doing now during your pregnancy to care for both of you. Please welcome Dr. Saeid Badie.
Prenatal Dental Care: Three Things You Need to Know
If you’re a mom-to-be, you’re likely filling your days with all sorts of baby prep tasks like stocking up on newborn clothing, picking out the crib that’s just right for your little one, finding the right paint colors for the nursery, and scheduling visits with the endless string of friends and relatives who will want to see you before the baby comes.
And aside from managing all of those prepare-for-baby’s-arrival tasks, moms-to-be have a whole laundry list of things they need to do to stay in great health. Having a baby causes big changes to just about every part of your body, and properly managing those changes is the key to ensuring a healthy pregnancy. From the prenatal yoga classes to the nutritionist and obstetrician appointments, there’s no shortage of experts you need to see and plans you need to follow in order to protect your health – and that of your baby.
But one area of healthcare that many moms-to-be overlook is their dental care. And by neglecting your dental care, you could be putting your baby at risk. That’s why agencies like the Public Health Agency of Canada and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are investing in research on prenatal dental care. And according to research in the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, getting better dental care during your pregnancy has been proven to reduce pre-term births and improve the overall health of moms-to-be, with no risk to your baby.
Clearly, great dental care is something that moms-to-be can’t skip. So how can you make sure that you’re getting quality dental care during your pregnancy? Here are three easy things that you can do to ensure that your great teeth stay great – and that your baby is born happy and healthy.
Create a Gingivitis Treatment Plan
When you become pregnant, your body starts increasing its output of hormones in preparation for your baby’s arrival – hormones like HCG, which promotes the formation of protective structures around your baby, and progesterone, which protects your developing baby from your immune system.
But one thing these hormones also do is increase your gums’ sensitivity to plaque, creating an exaggerated reaction that an often result in inflammation and bleeding. In most cases, this won’t have any adverse effects on your pregnancy, but mothers with more advanced gum disease may experience problems like premature birth.
That means you’ll need to pay extra attention to your gum health during your pregnancy, and take diligent care to ensure your teeth and gums stay clean. You can prevent or control gingivitis during your pregnancy by brushing, flossing, and using an alcohol-free mouthwash twice per day.
Combat the Effects of Morning Sickness with Nutrition, Water, and Mouthwash
Most moms already know that morning sickness is unpleasant – but what they don’t know is that it can wreak havoc on your mouth. Vomit is highly acidic, and frequent morning sickness during a pregnancy needs to be managed – otherwise it can increase your risk of developing cavities.
In order to keep cavities at bay, you’ll need to maintain a great oral hygiene routine. Brushing and flossing twice per day will go a long way to keeping your mouth healthy. If you’re using flavored toothpaste that induces morning sickness, try switching to a more bland-tasting variety. If you’re not already using a mouth rinse, consider adding one to your daily routine. Look for an anti-cavity rinse that contains fluoride.
You’ll also want to promptly rinse your mouth with water after each bout of morning sickness in order to remove all of the acidic materials. To build up your teeth and prevent cavities, you’ll want to avoid sugary snacks as much as you can and increase your intake of dairy products. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all great options that act as a one-two combo punch to knock out decay. These dairy products contain calcium (to neutralize harmful acids) and lactic acid (to kill the bacteria that promote decay). They’re also rich in Vitamin A, which helps cell growth, and protein, which promotes tissue repair.
Schedule a Dental Check-up for Your Second Trimester
It’s important that you see your dentist at some point during your pregnancy, to ensure that any issues like tooth decay or gum disease are treated promptly. Proper treatment can ensure that your baby is born healthy and happy. One study, conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, found that pregnant women who underwent a simple scaling and root planing procedure saw their risk of preterm labor decrease by 34 percent.
The key, though, is to schedule your appointment for the right time in your pregnancy. The first trimester is a very sensitive time in your baby’s developmental cycle, which means your dentist will want to limit your exposure to anesthetics and stressful environments. During your third trimester, sitting in a dentist’s chair for an extended period may be uncomfortable. Ideally, you should schedule your dentist visit for your second trimester – that’s when your check-up will pose the lowest risk to your baby and be most comfortable for you.
Proper dental care is important at all stages of life, but if you’re pregnant, your dental care will have an impact on your baby’s health. And although a lot of medical procedures are strictly forbidden during pregnancy, a dental checkup is one of the best things you could possibly do for your developing child. Contact your local dentist to schedule an appointment and learn more about prenatal dental health care.
Dr. Saeid Badie is a Tucson-based dentist at Badie Dental, where he has provided Tucsonans with compassionate dental care since 2000. He is an annual lecturer at symposia like University of Arizona Pre-Dental Society events, and a regular attendee at the annual Hopefest, where he serves Tucson’s underprivileged. In his spare time, you can find him practicing photography, reading, or enjoying time with his family.