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Pregnancy, Oral Hygiene, and Periodontal Disease: What You Need To Know

pregnant woman smiling

Pregnancy is filled with many exciting moments. From the moments you find out you’re expecting to the day you deliver, each second is one to be treasured. But in between those special moments are the very real moments in life that require you to think through what you’re doing. You already know you’re supposed to avoid alcohol, smoking, and any rough and tumble activities that could harm your little one but did you know that one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby is to maintain proper oral hygiene while you’re pregnant?

What does good oral hygiene look like during pregnancy?

Your oral hygiene routine should look much like it currently does. You should be brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, eating a healthy diet that is low in sugar, and visiting the dentist twice a year. Each of these components of your routine help to reduce the build up of bacteria, fight plaque, and eliminate bacterial decay.

Why is periodontal disease such a big deal?

Periodontal disease is a huge issue regardless of whether you are pregnant or not. Periodontal disease causes your teeth to loosen, infection to set into your gums, horrible breath, and tooth loss. It’s linked to heart disease and diabetes and wreaks havoc on your overall health.

For pregnant women, periodontal disease can lead to premature birth. In fact, pregnant women with periodontal disease are up to seven times more likely to give birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy and have babies with a low birth weight. There’s also a select number of studies that have linked periodontal disease to preeclampsia. This sudden spike in blood pressure can be deadly to both mother and baby.

What about dental decay?

The strongest link between dental caries in children is that between parents. More often than not parents pass bacteria between their mouths and children’s by thinks as simple as sharing utensils or even cleaning a pacifier off with your mouth. This is why it’s crucial that you practice good oral hygiene and reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth.

If You’re Planning to Become Pregnant

If you’re planning to become pregnant be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist as part of your pre-pregnancy doctor appointments. This will help you understand how healthy your mouth is and get any treatment before you conceive. Additionally, a pre-pregnancy appointment will help to make sure you don’t run into a dental emergency while pregnant, as nearly all pain relievers are off the table once you have a bun in the oven!

Is it safe to visit the dentist while pregnant?

It’s not only safe to visit the dentist while pregnant, it’s recommended. It’s best to have cleanings performed during the second and third trimester. This is because baby is more likely to be affected by a mother’s exposure to medicines in the first trimester. If you have periodontal disease and need scaling and root planing the American Association of Periodontology recommends scheduling your appointment for the second trimester.