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What You Need to Know About Dental Health and Pregnancy

You’ve decided to have a baby.  CONGRATULATIONS!   With all of the changes that will happen over the next months, it’s important to not forget your oral health.  It can be one of the most important aspects of having a healthy pregnancy, but often times seeing the dentist is forgotten or put on the back burner.  Here are some tips to having a healthy smile and a healthy pregnancy.   


Checking up with your dentist prior to getting pregnant will get you off to a healthier start.  Did you know that 75% of the adult population in the United States has some stage of gum disease?  Without routine dental checkups it is impossible to know the status of your gums, and women with gum disease are statistically shown to take longer to get pregnant.  In addition, women with gum disease are several times more likely to have a premature, underweight baby.


Yup, morning sickness.  The one thing that will remind you on a daily basis that you are pregnant.  The effects of morning sickness can wreak havoc on your teeth and can potentially cause tooth loss.  Ever heard the wives’ tale that a woman loses a tooth for every child she has?  This can definitely contribute.  A good solution is to rinse your mouth out with water after throwing up.  Fluoride will become your best weapon against stomach acid induced tooth destruction.  A good fluoride rinse that you can get over the counter or from your dentist can help re-strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay.


Even if you have healthy gums and teeth, a lot of women will experience pregnancy induced gingivitis or red, puffy gums.  Oral hygiene will be especially important during this time in order to prevent irreversible damage to the gums and underlying bone.  An electric toothbrush, floss, and alcohol free mouthwash will do wonders for protecting your oral health.


Uh-oh!  If you have an abscessed tooth it can be dangerous to your health and your baby’s health as the infection could spread throughout your body.  Routine x-rays should be avoided during pregnancy, but in the event of a dental emergency, your dentist can take the necessary precautions to keep your baby safe from x-rays.  The use of digital x-rays that submit less radiation plus lead shielding make it possible to safely have the diagnostic imaging done.  It is safe to have dental work done during pregnancy.  The second trimester is the best time to have work done, and local anesthetics that are approved by your obstetrician can be used.


Before the baby gets here, it will be important to have anyone who will be helping with childcare get a dental checkup as well.  If grandma has gum disease or rampant dental decay, she can pass the bad bacteria to your baby who doesn’t have a fully developed immune system yet.  Then that disease causing bacteria will set up residency in the baby’s mouth so that when teeth do start coming in, your child will be more susceptible to cavities and gum disease later in life. 


Dr. Cynthia Blalock is a general dentist practicing in St. Peters, MO.  She owns and operates Cardinal Dental and is experienced treating pregnant women and families.  Visit www.cardinaldentist.com to learn more.