Many moms-to-be meticulously plan their meals for optimal nutrition, take daily vitamins and never miss a doctor’s appointment. Unfortunately, those same women may feel too busy to consider keeping regular dental appointments during the nine months of pregnancy. However, ignoring dental care during this time of life can place both mother and child in jeopardy.
Being proactive about your dental health during your pregnancy is extremely important. It can make all the difference between a blissful, event-free pregnancy and one that is marred by complications. Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology have stated the importance of regular dental care during pregnancy.
Consider the following dos and don’ts of maintaining or improving your dental health while you’re pregnant. You are likely to find that more of your overall oral health care is in your hands than you imagined, and you’ll feel better on every level when you treat your teeth and gums well.
Do Go for Cleanings and Keep Dental Appointments
Go to your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups throughout your pregnancy. You are more likely to experience greater comfort and improved pregnancy outcomes when you receive dental care while you’re expecting. Periodontitis treatment is perfectly safe and poses no threat to the developing fetus. The same is true for getting fillings to treat cavities.
It’s safe for your dentist to use local anesthetics when treating dental problems. Tooth extractions and restorations can be safely done during pregnancy, and the American Pregnancy Association states that they are best done during the second trimester. Routine dental scaling, plaque removal using dental tools and teeth polishing may be a part of your dental visit.
Don’t Stop Flossing
Because pregnancy can be such an all-consuming time of life, sometimes oral health care falls a little to the wayside. That can spell disaster because the pregnancy hormones may cause your gums to swell and subsequently bleed. Flood can get trapped and cause a cycle of gum irritation. No matter how busy you get, don’t stop regularly flossing during your pregnancy.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, you should floss at least once per day. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that flossing is one of the important daily actions that you can take to prevent gum disease, and it’s more important than ever with the increase in hormones during your pregnancy.
Do Schedule X-Rays If You Need Them
Although it’s fine to put off elective dental X-rays during a pregnancy, there’s no need to do so. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that dental X-rays are safe. So, if you need one to diagnose a problem, don’t worry. Let your dentist know that you are pregnant and discuss whether X-rays during your pregnancy are a good idea in your specific situation.
Having a diagnostic dental x-ray should not expose your fetus or reproductive organs to radiation, and you can wear a leaded apron or collar for protection. Non-emergency diagnostics may wait until the third trimester. However, since dental disease can correlate with pregnancy problems, it’s important to stay on top of your dental health throughout the pregnancy.
Don’t Ignore the Tell-Tale Signs of Tooth Decay
Since you may have a lot of responsibilities and may not always be feeling your best during a pregnancy, it can be tempting to put off another responsibility such as getting a tooth checked out. However, once you lose a tooth to decay, it’s gone forever, and dental distress may not be good for your pregnancy and general health.
Some signs of tooth decay are as follows:
- Toothache. This symptom is the most common, and it should be taken seriously. Even pregnancy-safe pain medicine won’t solve the underlying problem.
- Bad breath. Bad breath is a bad sign. Sometimes it’s accompanied by a bad taste in your mouth. If in doubt, ask someone you trust who will give you an honest opinion.
- Increased tooth sensitivity. If your tooth is newly sensitive when it usually isn’t, that may be a sign of decay.
- Visible holes. Pits and holes in your tooth are undeniable signs of a cavity.
- Swollen gums. Sometimes your gums will be swollen near a decaying tooth.
If you experience any signs of tooth decay, call your dentist for an appointment.
Do Eat a Balanced Diet
While you’re pregnant, it’s important, of course, to eat a balanced diet for a variety of reasons. Your dental health will benefit from a diet that is rich in nutrients like protein, phosphorus and calcium as well as vitamins A, C and D. You should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains. Nut milks and nuts like walnuts, pecans and almonds are great for your health, too.
Finally, talk to your dentist about any questions or concerns you have during your pregnancy. The experienced dentists and other caring staff members at Apollo Dental Center are there for your family through all its stages. Get your little one started off on the right foot by taking optimal care of your dental health and overall health throughout your pregnancy.