Taking care of your gums and teeth during pregnancy is an important thing to do to ensure the health of you and your new baby. The easiest way to maintain good dental health is to visit your dentist regularly, including while you are pregnant. During your checkup, simply inform your dentist and hygienist that you are pregnant and about any changes you may be having with your teeth and gums. While pregnant, it is not unusual to have dental and oral health issues that you’ve never experienced before. Some common dental problems during pregnancy include:
- Bleeding gums. High levels of progesterone can make your gums swollen, red and sore. This inflammation is called gingivitis. Without treatment, gingivitis can become a serious gum disease called periodontitis.
- Tooth decay. It is common to have more acid in your mouth during pregnancy. This extra acid can break down your tooth coating, called enamel. This makes you more likely to get cavities.
- Lumps on swollen gums. These are tumors that form between teeth, but they are not cancer. These tumors may be caused by having too much plaque (sticky bacteria that forms on teeth). Pregnancy tumors usually go away on their own.
- Periodontitis is a serious gum disease, and it if you’re experiencing it, treatment is essential to avoid complications for you and your baby. Some studies have linked periodontitis to premature birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and low birthweight (less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces).
What can you do to prevent and treat these conditions?
- Brush your teeth regularly. Brush for 2 minutes, using a toothbrush with soft bristles, twice a day. Make sure you use a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss every day. Floss at least once a day to clean in between your teeth. Regular brushing and flossing around the gum line are key to removing plaque and helping prevent periodontitis and tooth decay.
- Rinse your mouth if you throw up. If you throw up, rinse your mouth with water to wash away the acid. If morning sickness makes you feel too sick to brush your teeth you can rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Have a dental checkup that includes an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning every 6 months. You also need a checkup during pregnancy, especially if you have any discomforts in your mouth.
- Eat healthy foods. Eating foods packed with nutrients will help you and your growing baby get enough calcium, protein and vitamins. These nutrients will also help ensure your baby’s teeth grow healthy.
- Limit sweets. Having too many sweet foods or drinks can lead to tooth decay. Instead of sweets, drink water and pick healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy products.