Dr. Paul Perella, DMD

BEFORE YOUR DUE DATE, SCHEDULE A DATE WITH YOUR DENTIST

In honor of baby Perella #2, we thought we'd share how important it is to take good care of your teeth if you are pregnant.

While most pregnant women recognize how important their own overall health is for their baby's health, many may ignore a critical component--their oral health. In fact, a survey of American children's oral health conducted on behalf of Delta Dental found that nearly 4 out of 10 American mothers neglect to visit a dentist during pregnancy, which is significant to helping prevent harmful oral and overall health problems for themselves and their babies.

"Expectant mothers and women who are planning to become pregnant need to pay special attention to their oral health and should schedule a dental checkup and cleaning to address any dental problems," said Dr. Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dental's vice president for dental science and policy. "Dentists can identify and treat teeth and gum problems, lowering the risk for more serious, ongoing health problems for both a mother and her baby."

While having a healthy mouth is always important, pregnancy can intensify dental problems. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can exaggerate the way gum tissue reacts to plaque, increasing the risk for gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal (gum) disease. Some studies have suggested that pregnant women with moderate-to-severe gum disease may be more at risk to give birth to low-weight or pre-term babies.

The good news is that dental hygiene habits are controllable, but some pregnancy side effects may wreak havoc on a woman's oral health. For instance, nausea and vomiting affect 80% of all pregnant women. The stomach acid from vomiting can erode tooth enamel--making teeth sensitive and more vulnerable to decay. A woman may also feel less willing to follow her usual pattern of regular brushing and flossing.

Most moms-to-be also experience cravings. The additional snacking can lead to increased tooth decay. Giving in to cravings for sugary foods can be worse for expectant mothers' teeth, since sugar is a major cause of tooth decay.

Along with visiting the dentist, we recommend the following tips to help prevent oral health complications during pregnancy.

Brush your teeth twice daily with flouride toothpaste and floss once daily
Limit foods containing sugar to mealtime only. If you do indulge, drink a glass of water while snacking and brush your teeth once you're done.
Choose water or low-fat milk to drink and avoid carbonated beverages.
Opt for fruit rather than fruit juice to meet the recommended daily fruit intake.
If you suffer from "morning sickness", rinse your mouth out with water and baking soda solution afterward. The combination will neutralize the acid. Also, brush your teeth gently and if you chew gum, use the kind with xylitol as the main sweetener.

Source: deltadental.com