Prenatal Dental Care

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You want me to brush my baby’s teeth … in the womb?

You may be thinking … what does prenatal dental care entail?

When first learning about the need for prenatal dental care, this was my first reaction as my thought was that there was new research about how to take care and prepare your baby’s dental health in utero.

However, prenatal dental care is not for your baby, but instead for pregnant women.

Did you know that pregnant women may be more prone to gum disease and cavities?

Factors that can cause your dental health to decline…

Gum Problems

  • The hormones produced during pregnancy can sometimes cause you to be more prone to various gum problems such as…

    • gingivitis (gum inflammation) which is the swelling of the gums and most likely to be seen in your second trimester of pregnancy.

    • undiagnosed or untreated periodontal disease that would have been preexisting to becoming pregnant, but may worsen throughout carrying a baby.

    • pregnancy epulis or pyogenic granuloma which is enlargement of the gums in localized areas and that are not permanent, but uncomfortable.

  • You may want to switch to a toothpaste that has a higher fluoride content and a toothbrush with softer bristles to battle these gum problems.

Vomiting

  • During pregnancy, hormones soften the muscle that keeps food and drink in your stomach and causes vomiting to become more prevalent during this time. Excessive vomiting in turn can continually coat your teeth with strong stomach acids and increase risk of tooth decay.

  • To help combat tooth decay from vomiting…

    • Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting. While the teeth are covered in stomach acids, the vigorous action of the toothbrush may scratch the tooth enamel. 

    • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with plain tap water. 

    • Follow up with a mouthwash*. 

    • If you don't have a mouthwash*, put a dab of toothpaste on your finger and smear it over your teeth. Rinse thoroughly with water. 

    • Brush your teeth at least an hour after vomiting.

Cravings for Sugary Foods

  • Especially during the first trimester of pregnancy, food cravings appear and often if your cravings turn out to be sugary in nature, cavities may become more prevalent from those cravings.

  • If you do have those sugary cravings, try to find low-sugar or naturally sweet food options (grapes, dried fruits, dark chocolate)paired with some protein (nut butters, nuts, cheese, boiled egg) and if that does not satisfy; rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash and brush your teeth after satisfying that sweet craving.

Your dental hygiene can affect baby in the uterus…

When Dental Hygiene Lacks

  • A pregnant woman that does not have a regular or consistent tooth-brushing habits can lead to having excessive bacteria that grows in the mouth. That bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the gums and end up in the uterus where baby is growing.

  • This then can trigger the body to produce a chemical called prostaglandins, causing early term labor.

What can you do as a mom preparing for the arrival of your baby?

Image sourced from  Healthchildren.org  American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018)

Image sourced from Healthchildren.org American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018)

Resources

General Dentists in Boone, NC

General Dentists in Tri-Cities

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018, June 22). Give your baby the best possible start. (healthychildren.org) Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/Pages/Protect-Tiny-Teeth.aspx

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018, June 26). Tiny teeth: Art of for-two’ing. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ub9HC1DX4Mg

Department of Health & Human Services. (2014, August 31). Pregnancy and teeth. (State Government of Victoria, Australia) Retrieved from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-teeth

J. Shahangian, DDS, MS. (2017, May 16). Brushing for two: How your oral health affects baby. (healthychildren.org) Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/Pages/Brushing-for-Two-How-Your-Oral-Health-Effects-Baby.aspx

*Fluoridated (recommended by Australian DHHS)