Healthy mom, happy home: a new mom’s guide to babying your teeth and mouth.
A baby on the way or a new baby can make the rest of the world fade away. Between sheer joy and almost-round-the-clock baby care, mom self-care often takes a backseat. Already a mom? You know what we’re talking about. All-baby, all-the-time is a losing long-term strategy for you, your baby and everyone else in the house.
Here’s what every mom-to-be and new mom needs to know:
Mom self-care before and after the baby is born is just as important as all the things you do for your family. Moms can be the center of a baby’s universe, so if mom is down, schedules crash, moods sink, the whole operation can slow to a halt.
Wait. What’s “mom self-care?” It’s all the things you do to be awesome — for yourself and others.
Take dental care. Just because you’re nurturing a new life, doesn’t mean you can let go of your own needs. Imagine bringing home a new baby. You’re working around the clock to tend to your precious bundle. You have tooth pain, which you ignore because…hey, who has time? Over-the-counter pain relievers only work for so long. The pain gets intense, especially at night, making sleeping difficult — if that’s even possible. Now you’re grouchy, forgetful, and breastfeeding is less productive.
No one wants to raise their hand for dental work but left unattended, dental problems can really mess with your role as caregiver.
BabyCenter.com says mom self-care is critical and spells out what that entails:
- taking care of your teeth while you are pregnant
- setting up a strong support system
- getting enough rest
- maintaining a sense of humor
- taking care of yourself physically
Yes, this means keeping up with regular doctor and dental visits. A minor issue can turn into a much bigger one before you know it.
Prevention is key. Dental care is safe and highly recommended while pregnant.
Follow these gotta-do’s as soon as you get the good news:
- Don’t miss your regular dental cleanings while pregnant; they keep gum disease and gingivitis (conditions that can affect your baby’s health) at bay.
- Get necessary dental treatment while pregnant — before your baby is born, and maintain good dental care 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.
- Floss daily, brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Drink lots of water — before you feel thirsty. Fluoridated water is best. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel.
Your mouth matters more than you may think. Did you know that cavity-causing germs in your mouth can cause cavities in your baby’s teeth later? It’s kind of gross, but moms with untreated tooth decay or gum infections can actually pass this yucky bacteria to their babies through kisses, sharing utensils and putting baby’s pacifier in their mouths. To help keep your baby cavity-free, make sure your mouth is healthy.
Cravings and cavities. Food cravings are serious business for a mom-to-be. Keep in mind that foods high in sugar and carbs such as bagels, juice, and gummy snacks stick to teeth and feed cavity-causing germs that live in the mouth. 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. Better to eat a snack all at once and rinse with water (especially fluoridated water) afterwards.
Tooth-healthy snacks include fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, nuts, whole grains, and lean meats.
Chew on this. Gum with xylitol, a natural sweetener, can reduce cavity-causing germs in the mouth. Your dentist or hygienist may recommend rinses with fluoride or chewing gum with xylitol, which reduce germs that cause tooth decay. Chew it four to five times a day, especially after eating.
All of the above are baby steps to set you up for years of mom self-care. Don’t think of it as pampering. Leave that for the fancy stuff. Think of it as taking care of the most important person in your baby, and your family’s, life.