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Proper Prenatal Dental Care Achieves More Than a Nice Smile
by Chris Just on 09/19/2014 at 8:03 AM

Dental%20Care.jpgMaintaining healthy oral hygiene should always be a priority but especially during pregnancy when the risk for periodontal disease is higher. First, nausea with vomiting in pregnancy gives stomach acids the opportunity to enter the mouth and erode tooth enamel; therefore, allowing cavities to form more easily. Second, pregnancy hormones help create the perfect environment within which gingivitis can occur. Here’s how: Estrogen and progesterone cause mucous membranes to become engorged; as a result, expecting women are more prone to annoying symptoms such as nose bleeds and bleeding of the gums. Swollen, bleeding gums are more susceptible to inflammation (gingivitis) which can lead to infection of the gums. In pregnancy, periodontal disease is even more concerning because the bacteria that causes the infection also increases the risk of preterm birth and having a low birth weight baby. 

To prevent these risks, keep in mind the following 6 simple tips for proper prenatal dental hygiene:

  1. Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush.
  2. Swish and gargle twice a day with an anti-microbial, alcohol-free mouth rinse.
  3. Floss, floss, floss – every day!
  4. Eat a healthy, calcium-rich diet and avoid sweets and carbonated beverages.
  5. Maintain your twice yearly dental appointments (more if necessary).
  6. Dental caries can be treated in pregnancy and local anesthesia is safe to use. Postpone routine x-rays until after the pregnancy; however, if you need an x-ray because of a dental issue, just be sure your dentist covers you with a lead apron to protect your baby as well as a lead collar to protect your thyroid.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in 2007-2009, over 50% of women reported that they did not visit a dentist during pregnancy.  Don’t be part of that statistic. Take time to engage in healthy dental care to prevent periodontal disease and protect yourself and your baby. For more information, visit the American Dental Association’s pregnancy information at http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/pregnancy/. Happy brushing, swishing and flossing!

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