So, you recently found out that you’re expecting and you’re overcome with excitement! You immediately pick up some prenatal vitamins, schedule a visit with your doctor, and start thinking about how to decorate the nursery. Amidst all of the preparations (and the fact that you’re suddenly exhausted at all times), your brushing and flossing routine may not be what it once was. There are so many things to think about, you figure you’ll get back to it after the baby is born. While it’s understandable to think that way, a dentist in Tulsa explains why your oral health is even more important than usual while you’re pregnant and how to take great care of your teeth and gums.
Why Does Your Oral Health Matter During Pregnancy?
Over the last 20 years or so, researchers have found a lot of evidence that inflamed or bleeding gums can have adverse consequences for the rest of the body. While the link isn’t fully understood, one theory is that inflammation in the mouth leads to inflammation in other areas.
In addition, the bacteria that make up plaque and tartar can enter the bloodstream if not effectively removed during brushing and flossing. Once in the bloodstream, these bacteria travel from head to toe.
During pregnancy, those same bacteria can travel to your unborn baby. Studies have shown that pregnant women who have inflamed gums can give birth prematurely or have low-weight babies.
Another complicating factor is that your gums can bleed more during pregnancy due to shifting hormone levels, which is beyond your control. This is called “pregnancy gingivitis” and can make it especially difficult to maintain healthy gum tissue at this time!
How Can You Keep Your Gums Healthy?
The first step towards a healthy mouth during pregnancy is scheduling a checkup and cleaning. Your dentist will be able to assess the condition of your gums and gently remove any tartar buildup from under the gumline.
Since the benefits of professional cleanings for pregnant women are so well established, some insurance companies will even cover them more than twice per year during pregnancy. It never hurts to find out!
The second thing you can do is to be extremely diligent with your brushing and flossing. There are several tools available that can help you be more effective, such as an electric toothbrush, floss picks, or a waterpik.
Even if you continue having some bleeding due to hormonal changes, keeping things as clean as possible will still be helpful!
Third, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce inflammation and give your body what it needs to maintain healthy teeth and gums. This can be as simple as adding vegetable soup and piece of fruit to your lunch each day.
With a healthy mouth, you’ll have a better chance at having a healthy baby – and that’s something to smile about!
About the Author
Dr. Angie Nauman has been working in the dental field for nearly 25 years. Her passion for dentistry started in childhood, and she still brings that same excitement to her work each day. A mother of five, she especially loves helping her female patients understand the importance of having healthy teeth and gums during pregnancy. She can be contacted for questions via her website, or at (918) 254-8686.