Dental care is prenatal care: Simple steps to keep mom’s and baby’s mouths healthy
Your oral health can affect your baby now…and later. Putting off dental care and necessary treatment could result in significant risk to you and your baby.
- Prior to birth, a bad tooth or gum infection can spread throughout your body leading to serious health problems.
- Following birth, you can pass cavity-causing germs to your baby.
That’s why taking care of your oral health during pregnancy is good for you…and for your baby. Here are a few tips to ensure you have a good oral health throughout your pregnancy:
Floss, Brush, Drink Water
Floss daily, brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and drink lots of water. Fluoridated water is best. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel.
Combat Morning Sickness
Do what you can to reduce the acid in your mouth (it can damage your teeth). Eat small amounts of nutritious snacks during the day. If you vomit, rinse your mouth. Put 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water and use this to rinse. Spit after rinsing. Do not brush right afterwards; this can damage the surface of your teeth.
Don’t Pass Cavities on to Your Baby
Cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth can cause cavities in your baby’s teeth later. Moms with untreated tooth decay or gum infections can pass cavity-causing bacteria to their babies through such things as kissing, sharing utensils and putting baby’s pacifier in their mouths. Go ahead- kiss your baby! Just be sure you’re cavity free.
Foods high in sugar and carbs such as bagels, juice, and gummy snacks stick to your teeth and feed the cavity-causing germs that live in the mouth.
Your teeth need a break. After eating, germs make acid that attacks your teeth for 20 minutes, so try to avoid grazing on carbs or sipping on sweetened drinks all day. If you have a snack eat it all at once and then brush afterwards. If you can’t brush, rinse with water (especially fluoridated water).
Instead, choose tooth-healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, nuts, whole grains, and lean meats. Learn more about smart snacking here.
Chew Gum with Xylitol
Xylitol is a natural sweetener that reduces the cavity-causing germs in the mouth. Your dentist or hygienist may recommend rinses with fluoride or chewing gum with xylitol, which reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay. Chew it four to five times a day, especially after eating.
Go to the Dentist
Go to the dentist while you are pregnant to make sure your mouth is healthy.
Get necessary treatment before your baby is born and take care of your mouth after your baby is born.
Treatment including fillings, x-rays, and certain medications are safe during pregnancy. Tell your dentist or hygienist that you are pregnant and when you are due.
Learn more about finding and paying for dental care here.