Prenatal Care and Dental Health
Taking care of your own health and needs while pregnant can have a surprising effect on both the dental and overall physical health of your child. While more research is still needed to provide specific numbers in terms of risk, there is rapidly growing evidence to suggest that there is a link between gum disease and premature birth. It seems that gum disease in pregnant women affects certain fluids and hormones that induce labor, and when gun disease worsens during pregnancy, the chances of premature birth go up accordingly.
Pregnancy Can Change Your Dental Care Needs
While you might think that dental care during pregnancy is just business as usual, you will be surprised to learn that there is actually a need for greater effort to maintain your tooth and gum health during this time. Increased hormone levels make your gums more sensitive to plaque, which greatly increases the chances of gingivitis. Another common problem during pregnancy is a deficiency in calcium, which is required for tooth strength and health. Remember that the calcium you take in is going to be largely diverted to the placenta and ensure that you are using prenatal vitamins and getting enough nutrients for both you and the baby.
Calcium isn’t the only mineral that expectant mothers should pay increased attention to. You will find that it is also important to take in adequate amounts of vitamins A, D, and phosphorous. This will go a long way in helping to ensure the oral health of your unborn child. When minerals are deficient, this can lead to hypoplastic enamel in your baby’s forming teeth. While children are born without teeth, the tooth buds actually appear in the fetus in only the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy.
Improving Home Dental Care During Pregnancy
In addition to prenatal vitamins, improving your own oral and dental care is essential during pregnancy. This means paying extra attention when brushing and flossing and keeping your teeth exceptionally clean. It also means paying special attention to the gumline during brushing, which can help to prevent gingivitis or to drastically reduce your chances of developing it.
Diet should also be carefully monitored during pregnancy. While this is obviously essential for medical reasons and to aid in the development of the baby, it is also quite important for dental reasons. It is important to try to avoid excess sugars despite cravings during pregnancy. Try substituting those sweets with filling and nutritious foods, such as calcium rich cheese or fruits. Fruit sugars can often help satisfy food cravings while preventing some of the damage done by refined sugar.
While tooth loss was once common with pregnancy, it was not due to an inevitability, but rather that pregnant women are at greater risk of caries and gingivitis because of change in eating habits, increased reflux and hormone changes. Removing plaque at least twice a day and paying attention to fluoride as well as the sugars and fermentable carbs in your diet can help prevent not only tooth loss, but caries and gingivitis as well.