We all know that motherhood is extremely challenging and exhausting, especially for those experiencing their first pregnancy. Luckily, your new baby probably won’t have any teeth for you to worry about yet. But don’t forget about your own teeth!
Forgoing regular dental visits can lead to extensive dental problems, which will take time, energy and money (all commodities you’ll need once baby arrives). Follow these tips to help stay on top of your dental health during pregnancy and in the months after your baby’s birth.
Make sure you keep up regular brushing and flossing.
Although you’re busy, it is crucial to keep up your good dental habits. Studies have shown that pregnancy makes the gums more susceptible to gingivitis and can exacerbate existing gum conditions. Pregnancy also increases the amount of saliva your mouth produces, as well as causing the pH of saliva to become more acidic. This can result in a buildup of excessive bacteria in the mouth, potentially leading to tooth decay and erosion if you don’t maintain healthy hygiene habits. It’s especially important to floss because fluctuating hormones change the way the gums react to plaque, making them especially susceptible to problems.
If you experience morning sickness, don’t brush right afterward.
Morning sickness is not only unpleasant, it can damage your teeth. However, it’s important not to brush right after vomiting; it can exacerbate erosion by brushing the lingering acid right into your teeth. Before you brush, rinse your mouth with a mixture of baking soda and water to neutralize the acid.
Keep your teeth healthy from the inside out.
Dentists recommend eating a balanced diet rich in calcium, protein, and vitamins C and D during pregnancy to support optimal dental health. Calcium in particular can help your teeth stay healthy. A diet rich in leafy vegetables, fruits and healthy proteins, such as eggs, beans and chicken, should do the trick.
Plan ahead when scheduling your dental visits.
While it’s safe to visit the dentist while pregnant, you should discuss your pregnancy with the dental office when making your appointment so staff can better accommodate your needs. Once you learn you’re pregnant, make an appointment late in your first trimester or early in your second trimester, if you don’t already have one on the books. Baby is less influenced by the external environment by this time.
After baby is born, make time for dental care.
Be sure to schedule time for a dentist’s appointment. Many major hormonal changes take place during the last few months of pregnancy, so it’s important to make sure your teeth and gums are staying healthy. If you’re having trouble finding time, ask a loved one to watch the baby during your appointment. (Your dentist’s office should be able to provide an estimated length of the visit.) Explaining your circumstances to people can go a long way in helping them help you take care of yourself. If you need extra incentive to go to the dentist, consider making your appointment at the beginning of a relaxing period of self-care. Taking a few extra hours for a walk in the park or a trip to the hair salon can re-center and reenergize you.
Editor's note: This article was first published several years ago and has been updated for 2021.