Dental care during pregnancy and after childbirth

Reviewed on : 03 September 2016

Pregnancy is considered as a beautiful journey towards motherhood, but it can also affect the health of the would-be mommy, if it is not managed properly.

During pregnancy, among others, it is also important to take good care of your teeth and gums, as pregnancy increases the risk of gum diseases which not only affect the mother’s health, but also that of the unborn. The hormonal changes while you are pregnant can make your gums inflamed and irritated. While brushing if you encounters red, puffy or tender gums, then it is usually an indication of plaque building on your teeth.

The first step that you are required to follow in this case is a gentle brushing and flossing of your teeth. Use a small and soft toothbrush with a fluoride toothpaste to brush the teeth along the gum line.

Taking Care of your Teeth before Pregnancy

Before  pregnancy, you should visit the dentist as he/she will professionally clean your teeth and also examine the gum tissue. In case a problem is detected in your oral health, the dentist can treat it well before a pregnancy.

Dental Care during Pregnancy

While  visiting a dental professional it is imperative that he/she is informed of the pregnancy. The dental expert will check the oral health and accordingly instruct you on how to take care of your teeth and gums. Dentists can then also be careful while prescribing medicines to a pregnant woman, as some medicines can affect the unborn baby’s health.

Oral Problems during Pregnancy

Morning sickness or gastric reflux (heartburn) can affect oral health of a would-be mom. Due to morning sickness, when one vomits, the acidic contents can coat the teeth. This can cause dental erosion, which increases the danger of tooth decay and dissolving of the tooth enamel.  You must hence follow the following tips to take care of your oral hygiene:

  • Thoroughly rinse the mouth after vomiting as it helps to wash away the acid.
  • Spread some fluoride toothpaste on the teeth to refresh the mouth. This fluoride paste also helps in strengthening the enamel.
  • After vomiting, avoid brushing the teeth for at least 30 minutes. By doing this, you protect the tooth enamel by giving it some time to recover from the acid attack.

Importance of Fluoride

Apart from strengthening one’s teeth, fluoride in the toothpaste also prevents tooth decay. Rest assured, a toothpaste containing fluoride doesn’t harm the developing baby in the womb.

No matter how you feel, Don’t Skip Brushing

Regular brushing prevents plaque build-up, hence it is mandatory to clean your teeth and gums twice a day during pregnancy. The first thing to do in the morning should be to brush your teeth and the last thing before going off to sleep should also be a thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums.  Since you might experience choking while brushing, it is advisable to use a soft, small-headed toothbrush. If you still find brushing sometimes difficult, you can simply smear some fluoride toothpaste on your teeth and not rinse it off for some time. However, you should try to  return to normal brushing with fluoride toothpaste as soon as possible.

Another hurdle that you might face while going to brush your teeth is morning sickness. If this keeps you from cleaning your teeth, then it is better that you try changing to a bland-tasting toothpaste (just for the duration of the problem). Ask your dentist to recommend a suitable brand. If this too does not work then the mother-to-be can simply rinse her mouth with a mouthwash and as a last resort with plain water.

Are dental X-rays harmful?

Yes, dental X-rays are harmful for the baby and should be avoided during pregnancy. If in case, the dental expert says that an X-ray is essential for ensuring your oral health, then make sure that it is done only with special care and proper protection.

Significance of Calcium

During pregnancy, Calcium is not only important for your own health, but also for the development of the baby’s teeth and bones. As the baby’s bones and teeth begin to calcify from the fourth month, it becomes important for a would-be mother to keep a check on what she eats. The requirement for calcium and phosphorus is fulfilled from what one eats and at times from the bones of the would-be mother. It is hence recommended that a mother-to-be consumes :

  • More and more dairy products that are rich in calcium (Check with the gynecologist about the quantity your body needs).
  • If you are not comfortable eating or drinking dairy products, then consult the doctor for supplementary calcium tablets.
  • Doctors recommend that a woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding and is over the age of 18 years, should have a daily intake 1000 mg (approx.) of calcium.

The foods that are rich in calcium

  • ½ cup of Spinach – 100 mg
  • 3cm cube (30g) reduced fat cheese – 260 mg
  • 200 gm of nonfat or skim yogurt – 360mg
  • 100 gm of pink salmon with bones – 300mg

After Childbirth

Bacteria can be passed to a newborn from other people with whom he or she comes in contact. So the baby’s teeth are at risk from the time their first tooth appears. Mothers can play an important role in keeping their newborn’s teeth healthy by keeping their own teeth and mouth clean and healthy. Choosing healthy food, regular cleaning and flossing one’s teeth and gums, limiting sugary food and a frequent dental check up can really help in keeping one’s mouth and gums clean. Mothers should continue the recommended intake of Vitamin C and Calcium in their diet.

It is best for mothers to avoid teeth-whitening kits/products as they may prove harmful for the baby.

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