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6 Dental Care Tips to Consider When You're Pregnant

 

Dental Care

Every day, women across the world give birth to 385,000 babies. Even so, pregnancy comes along with a lot of challenges -- including many that we do not generally talk about.

Pregnant women may suffer from nausea, morning sickness, fatigue, aches and pains, hormonal fluctuations, anxiety, and depression. Weathering these symptoms while tackling day-to-day responsibilities can feel overwhelming.

It is only reasonable then that some women let things fall by the wayside when they are pregnant. Unfortunately, one of these things is routine dental care.


However, pregnancy is one of the most important times to keep regular dentist appointments. The Cleveland Clinic puts it plainly: "Dental visits keep you and your baby safe."


Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to dental problems, thanks to hormonal changes and morning sickness. Pregnancy hormones can cause inflammation and exacerbate swollen gums.

In fact, as many as 60 to 75% of pregnant women suffer from gingivitis owing to these hormones. Another common pregnancy symptom that causes problems is morning sickness.

Pregnant women may throw up regularly or semi-regularly. That vomit contains caustic acids that strip away the enamel on their teeth.


For these reasons, it is absolutely essential for pregnant women to visit their dentist and to follow important dental care tips. Here are the best pointers to keep you, your teeth, and your baby healthy during pregnancy:
 

1. Brush And Floss Regularly

Some of the best dental care tips are also some of the most basic. For example, brushing and flossing daily is a critical part of your dental care. Follow these dental care tips while brushing and flossing during pregnancy:

 

  • Brush an absolute minimum of twice per day, and use fluoride toothpaste. According to HealthyChildren.org, "Expectant mothers who brush their teeth thoroughly can reduce the risk of suffering dangerous complications in pregnancy and take a step towards reducing the risk of future dental infection in their newborn baby." If you are snacking often or eating frequent, small meals to help stave off nausea, consider brushing your teeth even more often.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush completely. Brush each tooth, and brush your teeth in small circles. Always brush along the gum line, and make sure to brush the front and back of your teeth.
  • What if brushing your teeth triggers nausea? Unfortunately, brushing your teeth during pregnancy can trigger nausea, gagging, and vomiting. If that describes you, there are some strategies that can help. Instead of brushing your teeth immediately when you wake up, brush your teeth during the early afternoon when morning sickness may subside somewhat. Focus on breathing in and out while brushing, particularly when brushing your back teeth or when you are feeling especially nauseous.
  • Floss a minimum of twice per day. Take it slowly. If you notice inflammation or bleeding, gargling with salt water can help. Stir one teaspoon of salt into water and gargle. Like flossing, do this at least once a day.
  • In between flossing and brushing, keep your teeth and gums healthy by drinking plenty of water. This helps remove sticky foods, excess particles, and excess bacteria in your mouth. Plus, if you drink tap water, most tap water contains fluoride which strengthens teeth and reduces cavities and tooth decay.

In life, we know there are some things that are indisputably considered the safe and wise thing to do -- things like wearing a seatbelt while driving or a helmet while motorcycling. Think of brushing and flossing in the same way. Even if you are not feeling well, make a point not to skip them!

Visit your dentist

2. Visit Your Dentist For Routine Check-Ups

Your dental care is something that you need to be proactive about, particularly when you are pregnant.


Most health insurance plans cover at least two dental cleanings per year. Depending on your symptoms, you may want to schedule an extra cleaning or two. Talk to your dentist about the best course of action to take.


Remember, it is important to tell your dentist you are pregnant -- or even if you suspect that you may be pregnant. Your dentist will adjust your care accordingly.


For example, if you are due for X-rays, dentists will make certain you are wearing a thick and protective lead vest during the procedure. Out of an abundance of caution, some dentists may skip X-rays altogether. Alternatively, your dentist may use thermal imaging, ultrasound, or a dental impression to get the diagnostic information they need.


Likewise, if you are suffering from inflammation, pregnancy gingivitis, and/or you are concerned about the frequent vomiting associated with morning sickness, your dentist can help.

First, let your dentist know that you are pregnant and provide a complete list of medications you are currently taking. In most cases, your dentist can recommend dental care tips and/or prescribe medicated rinses or certain antibiotics that are safe for use during pregnancy.


If you are experiencing dental-related symptoms during your pregnancy, do not go it alone. Work with a dentist to come up with a treatment plan to help protect you and your baby.


Just like you regularly invest in certain car accessories, like windshield wipers and air filters, to keep your car in proper working order, it is important to invest in the upkeep of your gums and teeth during pregnancy. Schedule at least two dental cleanings, and talk to your dentist to find out if additional cleanings may be recommended or even necessary.
 

Just like you regularly invest in certain car accessories, like windshield wipers and air filters, to keep your car in proper working order, it is important to invest in the upkeep of your gums and teeth during pregnancy. Schedule at least two dental cleanings, and talk to your dentist to find out if additional cleanings may be recommended or even necessary.

cut down on sugar

3. Cut Down On Sugar And Carbs

Of course, brushing and flossing and regular trips to the dentist can only do so much. One of the most prudent dental care tips is to carefully watch your diet. That will make any other steps you take to care for your gums and teeth that much more effective. Namely, try to cut back on sugary foods and foods packed with carbohydrates. Learn the top foods to avoid and follow these suggestions about what to eat instead.


Avoid: Avoid sweets, like sour candies, sticky candies, soda, dried fruit, sticky foods, juice, and sports drinks. Sweets encourage bad bacteria to enter and thrive in your mouth -- and they introduce more acid.

Both leave you more prone to cavities and tooth decay. Foods with lots of carbs, like bread, potato chips, pasta, and crackers, are also bad for your teeth. All of these foods leave sticky residue on your gums and teeth. Plus, they break down into sugars that, once again, increase your risks of cavities.


Try eating these foods instead: Fruits and vegetables high in fiber, sugarless gum, green tea, black tea, dairy products, and foods containing fluoride. Check labels to find out what foods contain fluoride.

Fiber-rich foods stimulate saliva production. Saliva curbs "the effects of the acids and enzymes attacking your teeth" and "contains traces of calcium and phosphate... which restores minerals to areas of teeth that have lost them from the bacterial acids,"

The University of Rochester Medical Center writes. Teas and other foods containing fluoride strengthen teeth. Generally speaking, you will find fluoride in dehydrated soups, powdered cereals, seafood, and poultry products.


Whenever possible, follow these guidelines whether you are eating at home or whether you are ordering takeout from a local restaurant. Any little bit helps.
If you are struggling to afford maintenance on your vehicle, chances are you would not give up and order a luxury limo service.

Instead, you would reserve these luxuries for appropriate milestones and celebrations. Likewise, restorative dental work and dental treatments can cost a pretty penny -- and maybe largely unnecessary if you are careful. Keep costs low and manageable by prioritizing preventative measures, like limiting sugary and starchy foods.

Pica cravings

4. Don't Give Into Pica Cravings

Not all dental care tips are obvious ones. For example, an important -- and lesser-known dental tip -- to follow during pregnancy is to ignore pica cravings. What is pica? Pica is a health condition that compels its sufferers to eat everyday objects and items with zero nutritional value. Common items may include ice, paper, dried paint, chalk, dirt, and clay.

In rare instances, sufferers may even eat glue, cigarettes, and hair.
All cases of pica are a problem. Even snacking on ice cubes -- which may initially seem harmless -- provides no nutritional value and may deprive pregnant women and their growing babies of crucial nutrients they need. What's more, eating these items can wreak havoc on your gums and teeth.


Stay on top of your nutrition and protect your gums and teeth by addressing any symptoms of pica right away. Instead of giving into embarrassment, stuffing these problems down, and taking actions to hide the problem -- like simply calling in painters to replace flaking or chipped paint without calling your doctor -- start by acknowledging the warning signs of pica.


First, know that pica is often considered an eating disorder or medical condition. During pregnancy, it can be caused by hormonal changes or nutritional deficiencies. Pregnant women are more likely to suffer from a lack of iron, magnesium, and other important minerals. Bizarrely, your body may respond with pica cravings.


If you are suffering from pica cravings, visit your doctor or local medical center. There are several possible treatments. Your doctor may recommend a different prenatal vitamin, a specific diet plan, or they may refer you to a specialist, like a nutritionist, for more targeted treatments.


Lesser-known dental care tips are just as important. If you are suffering from pica cravings, talk to your doctor right away.

5. Use Baking Soda To Protect Your Teeth

Baking soda plays a large role in many dental care tips -- and for good reason. Baking soda naturally whitens teeth, prevents the build-up of harmful plaque, and reduces bacteria that can lead to serious health problems, like gingivitis.


While brushing with baking soda intermittently is a safer alternative to whitening teeth with caustic chemicals, keep in mind that it should not replace brushing with a fluoride toothpaste altogether. If you do brush with baking soda from time to time to enjoy its whitening benefits, continue brushing with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. Continue flossing as you normally would.

Baking soda is inexpensive, but excessive use may leave dark spots on teeth (particularly teeth with dental glue or teeth with composite fillings), and it is not strong enough or effective enough on its own to protect your teeth from cavities, like a traditional toothpaste with an American Dental Association (ADA) label.


The good news is that baking soda may have additional uses during pregnancy. According to the ADA, rinsing with one teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in water can help if you experience frequent morning sickness. This rinse will help combat the acid from persistent vomiting and keep critical enamel intact.


When it comes to dental care and dental care tips, baking soda is a bit like unique jewelry. It's nice to have, but it's not wholly necessary. It can be a great alternative to chemical teeth whitening and it helps tame acid from morning sickness, but you still need to follow your regular dental routine.

pregnancy gingivitis

6. Watch For Signs Of Pregnancy Gingivitis

A list of dental care tips during pregnancy would be remiss without a discussion of pregnancy gingivitis. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), "Pregnancy gingivitis is caused by the hormonal changes that increase the blood flow to the gum tissue and cause your gums to be more sensitive, irritable, and swollen."

These hormonal changes start in the first trimester and worsen during the second trimester. Keep an eye out for tender gums, bleeding gums, red gums, receding gums, and bad breath.


If you notice symptoms, keep pregnancy gingivitis at bay by eating healthy foods, brushing and flossing every day, and scheduling regular check-ups with your dentist. If your symptoms are flaring up and getting out of hand, do not hesitate to call your dentist.
If your roof was sagging, you would not hesitate to call a roof repair contractor. That is because your roof is one of the most essential structures in your home. Your gums are just as foundational to your overall health and your baby's health. Talk to your dentist right away if you have persistent symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis.


Pregnancy brings on a lot of changes, and some women may not realize that pregnancy can affect the health of their gums and teeth as well. Know that your teeth and gums are especially vulnerable during this time, and follow the dental care tips above to keep you and your baby healthy.
 

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