October 22, 2015
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Keeping up with your dental health should always be a priority

Did you know that hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy can have an impact on your teeth? While taking good care of your teeth and keeping up with your dental health should always be a priority, a little extra attention should be exercised when you become pregnant.

Here are a few pregnancy-related dental issues to watch for:

• Inflamed gums. Just as other mucous membranes in the body can become inflamed during pregnancy, so can your gums. Pregnancy gingivitis can develop in as many as 50% of pregnant women and is characterized by swollen and bleeding gums. The best defense against problems with your gums is to brush and floss regularly but with care to avoid further irritation in sensitive spots. Try a fluoridated mouth rinse with an ADA seal to ensure it's a trusted brand. Also, more regular cleanings is a preventative way to avoid gingivitis or any like conditions. 

• Morning sickness. Frequent vomiting can be hard on your teeth, so make certain that you are rinsing your mouth out with water or a dental rinse following a bout of sickness. Morning sickness can also involve an aversion to the taste of toothpaste. If this is a problem for you, speak to your dentist regarding recommendations for a different brand or a palatable rinse that is less likely to induce nausea.

• Diet. Just as you're going to monitor what you're eating to promote the health of your unborn child, your diet can affect your oral health. Frequent snacking can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay due to the increased exposure to sugar for the cavity-causing bacteria to feed on. And that old adage about "eating for two" can also make a difference in the development of your child's teeth in utero. Within three months of conception, a baby's teeth begin to form, which means eating healthy dairy products like yogurt and cheese is important to the babies' the mineralization of teeth as well as bones. Also, try to stay away from foods high in sugar; this is good not only for the health of your teeth but also for the development of your baby. 

• Pregnancy complications. Untreated dental problems can lead to infection, and any infection in the body during pregnancy can pose a risk to an unborn child. It's important to make every effort to avoid any such infections. If an infection does develop, work with your dentist and doctor to treat it immediately.

In order to catch any emerging dental problems before they become serious, make sure to see your dentist at least once during your pregnancy for a checkup and cleaning.

According to the Massachusetts Birth Report for 2011-2012, only 46% of women had their teeth cleaned during pregnancy. If possible, schedule a checkup before you plan to try to conceive so that you can be proactive about any potentially serious problems that may arise. However, even is complications were to occur, it is safe to get x-rays done if needed. Frequent trips to the dentist during pregnancy are not only safe but also encouraged.

Once your baby is born, schedule an appointment with your dentist to make sure your mouth is healthy and address any non-urgent problems that have arisen during your pregnancy. The most important step you can take to ensure your dental health while pregnant is to pay attention to what your mouth is telling you.

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