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5 Dental Facts for Expecting Mothers

Expecting mother and baby's teeth

As an expecting mother, you may have many questions and may be concerned with your general and dental health. You may also already be thinking about your baby’s dental health.

Here are 5 dental facts for expecting mothers.

1. Expecting mothers have three times the risk of getting gingivitis, the inflammation of the gums. Your body’s hormone levels rise significantly during pregnancy, and gingivitis is common during the second through the eight month of pregnancy.

Gingivitis may cause red, puffy or tender gums and may bleed when you brush. If not controlled, may lead to a more severe condition called periodontitis (gum disease). Pregnant women with severe periodontitis may be associated with higher risk for preterm birth and low birth weight.

2. The calcium in the baby’s teeth comes from the mother’s diet, not from the mother’s teeth. So if you are one of those expecting mothers with not so great teeth, rest assured that if you maintain a healthy, balanced diet, with enough calcium in your diet, your baby has a greater chance of developing healthy teeth.

3. Fluoride works best when teeth are fully formed and have erupted in the mouth. If you are taking fluoride supplement thinking that will help your baby to form stronger teeth, you can stop doing it. The fluoride you get at your dentist is topical, as opposed to systemic (a tablet that you swallow), and is minimally absorbed into your body. The Food and Drug Administration has given fluoride a category B rating, which indicates fluoride will not harm a fetus in utero.

Should you skip your fluoride treatment during your dental checkup? This is a personal decision, and expecting mothers should discuss with their dentists to assess the overall risk during pregnancy, and from there, decide on the best course of action for yourself and your baby.

4. Certain antibiotics are linked to causing damage to unborn babies’ bones and teeth. Two antibiotics come to mind, Tetracycline and Doxycycline. The babies’ adult teeth could also become discolored from taking these two antibiotics. It is recommended to only take either drug while pregnant if the benefits outweigh the risks to the unborn fetus. The good news is, most infections can be and are treated with a form of Penicillin which have not been linked to any birth defects.

5. Radiation from dental x-ray is low and is generally considered safe during pregnancy. Before having an x-ray, tell your dentist if you are or might be pregnant. Routine x-rays during your re-care visits can usually be postponed until after the birth. Emergency dental treatments such as root canal or tooth extraction are recommended during pregnancy to reduce the chance of infection. This is because dental disease not treated during pregnancy can lead to problems for you and your baby.

If dental work is done during pregnancy, the second trimester is ideal. All elective procedures such as cosmetic and teeth whitening should be postponed until after birth.

Here are 5 best practices to stay dentally healthy during pregnancy:

1. Maintain a healthy diet. Eat foods rich in protein, vitamins and calcium to help support the health of your baby as well as to protect your teeth.

2. Brush at least two times a day with fluoride toothpaste and for at least two minutes to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

3. Floss at least once every day to help prevent or minimize gingivitis.

4. Rinse with an antimicrobial, alcohol-free mouthwash to help control the bacteria that contribute to gingivitis. Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection and Colgate Total Pro-Shield mouthwashes are recommended.

5. See your Tacoma Dentist for regular exams and cleanings during pregnancy.

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