For Pregnant Women, Dental Health is Especially Important to Maintain

Pregnant-womanThe American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children and adults alike go to the dentist at least once every six months to ensure that their teeth and gums stay healthy, but there has been a recent focus on the importance of preventative dentistry for pregnant women. Preventative dentistry includes brushing and flossing your teeth, avoiding foods and drinks that damage the teeth, and getting regular cleanings from a professional dental hygienist to make sure that potential problems are identified and fixed before they turn into major health issues.

For pregnant women, practicing good preventative dentistry may be even more important for both the expectant mother and the baby. If you are an expecting Mommy-to-be, here are some things to look out for:

Pregnancy affects hormones, and hormones affect oral health. Pregnant women experience an increase in the levels of estrogen and progesterone, both of which can negatively affect oral health at high levels. A condition called “pregnancy gingivitis” can occur early on and continue throughout the pregnancy; if a woman already has gingivitis, it can worsen during pregnancy and lead to gum disease. The dentist obviously can’t change your hormone levels, but making sure that your teeth are clean can ensure that your gingivitis doesn’t get out of control.

Gingivitis can affect your baby. Studies show that a mother’s gingivitis may be the cause of a low birth weight for her baby. This is because bacteria in the mouth can enter the mother’s bloodstream and travel to the uterus, causing the release of prostaglandins, which can cause the woman to go into premature labor.

Healthy foods benefit both the mother and her baby. If certain foods aren’t good for your own teeth and dental health, then they sure aren’t good for your baby. Maintaining good oral health allows your body to focus on other issues; the more it has to attend to bacteria and cavities, the less it can focus on the baby’s development.

Making a dentist appointment within the first trimester of pregnancy is a great way to jump-start an oral hygiene routine. Dentists are familiar with the problems expecting mothers might face, and they can give personalized tips on how to maintain good oral health. If you find yourself in a bind though and you just can’t get to the dentist that soon, always make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once. These tasks only take a few minutes and they have long-term benefits for both you and your baby.

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