It’s important for you to take good care of your teeth and gums while pregnant. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase the risk of developing gum which, in turn, can affect the health of your developing baby.Pregnancy does not automatically damage your teeth. The old wives’ tale that warns a woman to expect a lost tooth for every baby is false. If the mother’s intake of calcium is inadequate during pregnancy, her bones – not her teeth – will provide the calcium her growing baby needs. This calcium loss is quickly made up after breastfeeding is stopped. However, the demands of pregnancy can lead to particular dental problems in some women.
With proper hygiene at home and professional help from your dentist, your teeth should remain healthy throughout pregnancy.
Dental disease can affect a developing baby
Research has found a link between gum disease in pregnant women and premature birth with low birth weight. Babies who are born prematurely may risk a range of health conditions including cerebral palsy and problems with eyesight and hearing.
Estimates suggest that up to 18 out of every 100 premature births may be triggered by periodontal disease, which is a chronic infection of the gums. Appropriate dental treatment for the expectant mother may reduce the risk of premature birth.
If you are planning on getting pregnant, it may be a good time see your dentist or oral hygienist, to minimise your risk of gum disease.
Pre-pregnancy dental health
You are less likely to have dental problems during pregnancy if you already have good oral hygiene habits. Suggestions include:
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss between your teeth.
- Visit your dentist or oral hygienist regularly.
Food cravings while pregnant
Some women experience unusual food cravings (and food avoidance) while they are pregnant. A regular desire for sugary snacks may increase your risk of tooth decay. Try to snack on low-sugar foods instead.
If nothing but sweetness will satisfy your craving, try to sometimes choose healthier options such as fresh fruits. Rinse your mouth with water or milk, or brush your teeth after having sugary snacks.
Increase your calcium during pregnancy
You need to increase your daily amount of calcium during pregnancy. Sufficient calcium will protect your bone mass and meet the nutritional needs of your developing baby.
Good sources of dietary calcium include low-fat versions of products such as:
- calcium-fortified soymilk.
Things to remember
- Pregnancy can lead to particular dental problems in some women.
- You are less likely to have dental problems during pregnancy if you already have good oral hygiene habits.
- Gum disease in pregnant women can lead to premature birth.