With the expected discomfort, adjustments to added weight and health checks related to the pregnancy, women may not give much thought to their dental care beyond daily brushing.
But the same hormonal changes that are paving the way for a new life are also likely to increase the risk of gum disease. When gums develop gingivitis and it's left unattended, a more serious gum ailment called periodontal disease can develop. In the worst case scenario, it can lead to tooth loss. In addition, pregnant women may experience painless bumps on their gums - often called "pregnancy tumors" - that usually occur during the second trimester.
Added together, the risks of bad oral health during pregnancy are significant and can lead to further health problems. Serious tooth decay and the bacteria that causes it have been linked to diabetes, heart disease and other inflammation in the body.
"Delaying necessary treatment for dental problems could result in significant risk to you and your baby," Maria Lopez Howell, D.D.S.,spokeswoman for the American Dental Association, told the Alexandria Town Talk. "It's worth your time to visit the dentist even if you don't think you have dental problems. Don't put dental care on the back burner … make it part of your health and wellness visits during pregnancy."
Practice good dental habits
Unlike in the past, medical experts now agree that dental X-rays, pain medication and local anesthetic can be administered safely to pregnant women. The American Dental Association and other health agencies advise women to take steps to maintain good dental health during pregnancy by scheduling a checkup before delivery. Having an affordable dental plan helps keep the cost of oral care within one's budget.
The ADA stated that it's especially important for women who are expecting to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated and prevent tooth decay. They should also avoid sugary foods and substitute water or milk for juice, fruit flavored drinks or soda.
In addition, women who are experiencing morning sickness should rinse their mouths with 1 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 1 cup of water to prevent the stomach acid left in their mouths from harming their teeth.
One other tip offered by ADA involves infants and young children. Cavity-causing germs that develop in an adult's mouth can be transferred when parents share utensils or clean a pacifier by putting it in their mouths before passing it back to their children. This should be avoided to prevent tooth decay in infants and toddlers.
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