Alpharetta, GA –If you want to give your children a head start on the path to good oral health, you need to maintain good oral health during pregnancy, according to Perinatal Oral Health Practice Guidelines. Believe it or not, pregnancy dental care is extremely important.
A pregnant woman’s oral health can impact her unborn baby’s oral health status. Research suggests that almost 18 out of 100 premature births may be caused by periodontal disease.
Scientific evidence shows that the risks of dental care during pregnancy are far outweighed by the benefits. If you become pregnant, you must tell your dentist to take safety precautions while receiving dental work. It is vital for expecting mothers to be seen by their dentists regularly in order to maintain and keep up their oral hygiene. Before your dental appointment, meet with your obstetrician to go over any special precautions or instructions they may have for you.
What dentists look for when examining expecting mothers:
The dentist will start with an overview of your oral health history. In addition to your history, they will also review your medical and dietary history. They want to see if you are currently or have in the past used tobacco, alcohol, or recreational drugs. The dentist will then proceed to give you an oral examination where they will look for signs of periodontal disease or any other risks.
There are some common questions that your dentist may ask an expecting mother. We will provide a short list so that you can be prepared. Remember to answer all questions as honestly as you can so your dental provider can give you a more accurate assessment.
- When was your last dental visit? Or examination?
- How many weeks pregnant are you? Or when is your due date?
- Have you received prenatal care?
- Do you have any swollen or bleeding gums? Or tooth pain?
- Do you have any questions or concerns about dental issues?
It is advised that you tell your dentist the names and dosages of all drugs that you are taking or that have been prescribed by your doctor. You want to include medications and prenatal vitamins as well as any specific medical advice your doctor has given you.
Do not be alarmed. Dental X-rays can be done during pregnancy. If x-rays are absolutely needed, your dentist will use extreme caution and protect you and your baby.
The Perinatal Oral Health Practice Guidelines highlight these interesting facts:
- Controlling oral diseases in pregnant women potentially can reduce the transmission of oral bacteria from moms to babies.
- Best practice suggests that periodontal care during pregnancy is beneficial because it is safe and effective in reducing periodontal disease and periodontal pathogens.
What can contribute to declining tooth and gum health:
Pregnancy can be extremely draining for expectant mothers. It is common for future moms to struggle with declining tooth and gum health. Pregnancy tends to bring a whole new level of exhaustion, and it can be difficult for mothers to remember to gain the strength to get up and brush. There are a handful of other things that can contribute to tooth and gum health.
There are a lot of hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy. It is common for women to experience pregnancy gingivitis, if left untreated, it can eventually turn into periodontitis. If gingivitis is not treated, the bone that supports teeth can be lost. When teeth have little support from the bones within them, they can become loose and potentially have to be extracted. Try to avoid sugary snacks. Sweet cravings are common during pregnancy, but remember that the more you snack, there is a higher chance of developing tooth decay.
Morning sickness also does not help with oral hygiene. Stomach acid makes its way into the mouth and weakens your tooth enamel. If morning sickness is preventing you from brushing, you can try rinsing your mouth out with water or mouthwash. Also, if you can, try brushing your teeth at least an hour after vomiting. The acids in your stomach weaken the enamel, so brushing immediately after vomiting can cause the enamel to erode.
Expectant mothers can promote good oral health in the following ways:
- Brush teeth twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste, especially before bedtime.
- Floss daily.
- Take prenatal vitamins, including folic acid, to reduce the risk of birth defects such as cleft lip and palate.
- Eat foods that are high in protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and D.
- Chew gum or mints that contain xylitol after meals if you are unable to brush.
Once the baby is born, moms can pass decay-causing bacteria to their children through saliva. Excessive bacteria grow in the mouth, then enters the bloodstream through the gums and travel to the uterus.
A 2008 study published in Pediatric Dentistry states: “strong evidence demonstrated that mothers are a primary source of MS [mutans streptococci] colonization of their children; a few investigations showed other potential sources… notably fathers.”
Just as people can spread cold germs among each other, the bacteria that leads to tooth decay can be passed along during infancy – particularly when a baby’s teeth are erupting. That’s when the teeth are most vulnerable, according to NBC News.
Parents can unwittingly pass harmful bacteria to their babies in the following ways:
- Kissing the baby on the mouth.
- Sharing an eating utensil when tasting baby food.
- Cleaning a dropped pacifier, teething ring or bottle nipple by mouth.
- Wiping the baby’s mouth with a saliva-moistened cloth.
- Letting others kiss their baby.
We at Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry are here to help with any questions you may have regarding pregnancy dental care. Please call us if you would like more information on how to promote good oral health for your baby.