Good oral hygiene is especially important for you now because pregnancy can make some dental disorders worse. The combination of hormonal and circulatory changes in your body, in addition to more frequent eating, usually result in the following:
- Increased salivation - A nuisance more than a health concern, this common problem is thought to be caused by enlarged blood vessels in your tongue and mouth.
- Bleeding gums - Because they`re swollen from increased blood flow, your gums are especially sensitive to brushing and flossing. However, it is important that you maintain regular brushing and flossing. Use of a soft toothbrush may help.
- Plaque buildup on your teeth - Plaque is the invisible, sticky layer of harmful bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. It produces damaging acids that can lead to both tooth decay and gum disease. Many women eat or snack frequently during pregnancy, to ward off nausea, to prevent constipation through increased fiber intake, or to meet overall dietary needs for good nutrition. This increases the opportunity for plaque buildup. In addition, increased hormone levels may aggravate the way gum tissues react to the irritants in plaque.
Prevention and Comfort Measures
Brushing and flossing
- Brush your teeth after every meal and snack
- Floss at least once every day
- Use a soft toothbrush and avoid vigorous scrubbing
- Use fluoride toothpaste
- Drink fluorinated water, if your water is not fluorinated, your provider may choose to prescribe a fluoride supplement.
- Eat a well balanced diet.
Professional dental care
- Continue regular dental visits during your pregnancy, letting your dentist and dental hygienist know that you are pregnant. Be sure to tell them about any health or medication changes that occur during your pregnancy.
- Ask your dentist or hygienist to show you how to brush and floss correctly.
- If visiting the dentist makes you more anxious during your pregnancy, discuss the situation with your dentist so special care can be taken to avoid stress.
- Schedule dental visits earlier in your pregnancy, when it may be more comfortable to sit for extended periods.
For Your Safety
- Avoid elective dental treatment, such as teeth whitening or bonding, especially during the first three months of your pregnancy.
- Make sure that your dentist takes only X-rays necessary for immediate treatment, and that you wear a leaded apron during the procedure.
- If you are concerned about the effect that a drug your dentist needs to use will have on your baby, discus your concerns with your dentist and your doctor/midwife to determine the best plan of care for you.
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