Don’t forget about your oral health during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy is an amazing, confusing and often exhausting time in a woman’s life. With funny pains, strange emotions and a multitude of appointments to worry about it is easy for a pregnant woman to put herself on the back burner. Very early on in pregnancy, it becomes clear that lifestyle and habits during this period can affect your health as well as the health of your unborn baby. Trying to remember to take one's vitamins, eat enough, and get enough sleep are tough enough while pregnant and trying to maintain a semblance of one’s pre-pregnancy life. Add to that maintaining oral health in order to avoid the risk of developing pregnancy gingivitis, and possibly negatively impacting ones babies’ health and it can truly be overwhelming. San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD, and his team have been caring for patients for generations and have put together a little guide to help simplify the process.
What if I need dental work during pregnancy?
It is important to maintain dental health during pregnancy. The first trimester of pregnancy (the first 13 weeks) is a time of great organ growth in your baby. If you are due to see your dentist during your first trimester, that’s okay stay on your regular cleaning schedule but make sure to tell your dentist that you’re pregnant and have only a checkup and routine cleaning. Many dental insurance companies now cover additional dental cleanings during pregnancy so make sure to check with your dental team. Major dental work should be pushed off until after the first trimester. However, dental emergencies should not wait! Infections in the mouth or body can be harmful to you and your baby and should be addressed immediately.
My gums bleeding more now that I’m pregnant, argh!!!
Bleeding gums during pregnancy are fairly common. 50 to 70 percent of all pregnant women experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. It is important to pay special attention to your daily brushing and flossing routine during pregnancy. Keeping plaque under control is very useful in preventing and reducing the bleeding associated with pregnancy gingivitis Here’s how:
- Invest in a Sonic or electric toothbrushes with a small gentle head. Sonic/electric toothbrushes often remove more plaque than regular manual toothbrushes, by investing in one, you can begin simplifying your home care routine and take the steps to reduce the amount of plaque in your mouth and help prevent and reverse gingivitis.
- Floss, floss, floss. Most people hate flossing but pregnant women even more so because of the swelling, tenderness, and bleeding that gingivitis causes. Don’t be afraid, by flossing at least once daily, you can eliminate more plaque than brushing alone and help reduce your risk of developing pregnancy gingivitis.
- Anti-gingivitis mouthwash. Alcohol-free, anti-gingivitis mouthwash is your final step to killing germs and improving your oral hygiene during pregnancy.
Daily Calcium is a must:
Women over the age of 18 should take between 1000mg and 1300mg of calcium daily. A growing baby needs a considerable amount of calcium for healthy bone growth. If one does not consume enough calcium to sustain the need of the developing baby then one's body will draw calcium from the mother's bones, decreasing her bone-mass and putting her at greater risk for osteoporosis later in life. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle — so brittle in fact that a fall or even mild stresses such as bending over or coughing can cause a fracture.
Be extra cautious of medications during pregnancy, stick to the list and use your good judgment.
Your OB/GYN with give you a list of medications that are acceptable during pregnancy. It is always best to err on the side of being more conservative when it comes to taking medication during this exciting time. Most antibiotics can be taken without concern. However, one group of antibiotics, tetracycline, and related antibiotics can cause hypoplasia (underdevelopment) of tooth enamel and/or discoloration of the permanent teeth in children.
Morning sickness, ughh…
Morning sickness may cause nausea and vomiting that generally is more prevalent in one’s first trimester but some women have symptoms throughout their entire pregnancy. For some women, it is minor and might leave her feeling just a bit queasy for others it is completely debilitating. Morning sickness is a misnomer it can happen at any time of day not just in the morning. If you suffer from morning sickness, having your own “mommy-to-be” travel bag is a good plan. The moms at San Francisco Dentist Dr. Edward Loev’s office put together this list for all expectant mothers. Start off by picking out a small cute bag and fill it with the following:
- Opaque plastic bags without holes (Ziploc or small grocery bags (check for holes) are a good choice)
- Tissues, napkins and wet wipes/baby wipes or moist face cloths to wipe your face and mouth
- Small bottle of water to rinse your teeth and mouth in addition to the larger one that you should carry with you everywhere to stay hydrated. A good goal for water consumption during pregnancy is at least 8, 8oz glasses of water per day.
- Travel-sized mouthwash, toothpaste, and a toothbrush to brush away stomach acids
- Breath spray, non-stick sugar-free gum or mints
- A clean shirt or blouse to change into, just in case of an accident.
My food tastes funny now that I’m pregnant, why?
Morning sickness plays a large role in lack of appetite and food tasting funny. Smells become more profound and food textures often play a role when they never did before. However, in addition to symptoms caused by morning sickness, you may experience symptoms of dysgeusia (changing taste buds or a bad taste in your mouth) or ptyalism (too much saliva).
To help cope with this unpleasant side effect:
- Teeth brushing is your friend. Brush often, gargle with a mixture of baking soda and water (1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in one cup of water) to help neutralize pH levels (Don’t swallow, please!)
- Suck on sugar-free citrus drops, add lemon to water and/or drink lemonade (Make sure to brush or at least rinse out your mouth afterward as lemons are very acidic)
- Temporarily use plastic utensils instead of metal ones.
Enjoy the journey!
When I asked the team at San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Loev’s office if they had any tips about pregnancy they all said: “enjoy every part of the journey!” Once your child is born he or she grows and develops so fast and there are so many new things to capture and remember each day. Enjoy yourself and partner during the journey because once the baby is born your focus no matter how hard you try will be on your child. A final tip was to not Google every symptom or strange feeling that you might have. The internet is a fantastic tool but when there is a question about your pregnancy or health consult the professionals!
We love caring for existing patients in our Downtown San Francisco Dental Office and always look forward to welcoming new patients to our dental family. If you have any questions about this post or would like to schedule an appointment please call us or email us at 415-392-2072 or Loevtosmile@drloev.com