If you’re expecting a child, you probably already know many of the dos and don’ts when it comes to taking care of your unborn child. You’re no doubt aware that you should avoid smoking or using alcohol and/or drugs while you’re carrying your child. And you probably understand the importance of eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest, and engaging in exercises that are approved by your doctor. But did you know that your oral health can greatly impact the health of your baby? Recent studies show that pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to have babies that are premature and underweight. And women are more prone to developing gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease) when they’re pregnant. That means that you’ll need to pay special attention to the health of your teeth and gums during this time in order to avoid problems that could potentially affect your unborn child.
The first step in taking care of your oral health is to contact your dentist and let him/her know that you’re expecting. Going in for regular dental checkups and professional cleanings is crucial in order to avoid any gum problems early on. And, of course, you’ll need to follow a daily oral hygiene routine at home. At the very minimum, you should brush twice a day and floss at least once. But maintaining healthy gums while you’re pregnant may require more than that. Consider flossing after each time you brush, and using a water flossing device at least once a day to remove any food particles left behind after regular brushing and flossing.
Following a healthy, balanced diet is another good way to ensure your good oral health, not to mention your overall health and the health of your baby. Follow your doctor’s advice when it comes to diet and exercise. Most pregnant women should eat a balanced diet consisting of lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Try to avoid eating too much sugar. Instead, try snacking on cheese, nuts or fruits as healthier alternatives.
If you haven’t already done so, contact your dentist to schedule an appointment and let your dental provider know that you’re pregnant. Dentists understand the special needs of pregnant women, and can provide the care you need and recommend the best way to maintain good oral health throughout the course of your pregnancy. The end result will be a healthier you and a healthy newborn!