Updated: Nov 23, 2022
Reviewed by Dr.Anuja Khare Joshi [BDS & MDS (Periodontics)]
If you are already pregnant, then taking care of your oral health becomes all the more important. Because most of the time oral health is ignored unless there is something serious. Pregnancy hormones, sweet cravings, and everything can add up to poor oral health if not maintained well.
In this article, you will read about -
Dental health or oral health is the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums together. It’s also an important part of your overall health. And if you’re pregnant, it’s an important part of your prenatal care (medical care you get during pregnancy).
Pregnancy can increase your risk for oral health problems if you already have dental problems, the changing hormones can cause some disturbance in your oral health, and there are some studies that link gum disease to premature birth.
Few changes that can be observed during pregnancy -
Some women get swollen and sore gums, which may bleed, during pregnancy. Bleeding gums are caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque, leading to inflammation and bleeding. This is also called pregnancy gingivitis or gum disease.
Your eating habits may change. You may eat more of certain foods during pregnancy than you did before you were pregnant. The kinds of food you eat can affect your dental health.
You have increased levels of certain hormones, like progesterone and estrogen, in your body during pregnancy. These can increase your risk for certain oral health problems.
How oral health can affect your baby?
When a pregnant woman has excessive bacteria growth in her mouth, it can enter the bloodstream through the mother’s gums and travel to the uterus, triggering the production of chemicals called prostaglandin hormones, that are suspected to induce premature labor.
After the baby arrives, the mother can potentially pass her bacteria on to her newborn (called vertical transmission). So, a mom who has lots of acid-loving bacteria in her mouth will pass higher numbers of those bacteria to her newborn.
Whether you are pregnant or not, oral health is important and one cannot ignore it. Here are some tips for you to follow if you are planning, or pregnant.
Tips to maintain your oral health
Clean your teeth carefully twice a day for 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste and ask your dentist to show you a good brushing method to remove plaque.
Floss once a day to remove small bits of food from between your teeth, which will help to prevent the build-up of plaque. Flossing is not recommended for everyone.
If you can’t brush your teeth because of vomiting, rinse your mouth with a mixture of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 cup of water. Rinsing can help reduce the amount of acid in your mouth.
Mouthwashes are not for long-term use. To be used only when asked to by the dentist. Even if they are alcohol-free.
Visit your dentist for a regular dental checkup every 6 months, even during pregnancy. At your checkup, tell your dentist that you are pregnant.
Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting. While the teeth are covered in stomach acids, the actions of brushing may scratch the tooth enamel.
Avoid sugary snacks. Sweet cravings are common during pregnancy. However, keep in mind that the more frequently you snack, the greater the chance of developing tooth decay. especially avoid sugary treats from evening onwards.
Oil pulling is considered safe during pregnancy, and can help you prevent pregnancy gingivitis.
Your gut health can say a lot about your oral health
The powerhouse of bacteria in your body is in your gut and your mouth. The oral microbiomes set the stage for everything that is to come. So, the healthier your mouth and oral microbiome are, the healthier your gut, immune system, and entire body. Every time you swallow, you are taking in thousands of bacteria, some bad but, most importantly, some good.
Your mouth is the mirror of health and disease in the body. The oral microbiome flows beyond the mouth and down the digestive tract, to become the gut microbiome. And deep in our digestive system, microbes become profoundly important to the overall function of our body.
If you have too few good bacteria or too many harmful ones, this imbalance sends an inflammatory signal to your immune system, causing various symptoms to occur throughout the body, including the mouth. In fact, your dental health can be monitored by examining gut health.
How to improve your gut health?
Watch what you eat. What goes inside your mouth plays an important role in your gut health. Nutrients you need during pregnancy.
Include probiotic food in your diet. Example - Naturally fermented foods.
Avoid processed foods that are full of additives and preservatives.
Include whole foods, and eat fresh home-cooked meals.
Avoid too salty, sugary foods. Most processed foods have a lot of salt or sugar added.
Choose a variety of fruits and veggies that are seasonal, local, and easily available in your geographical area.
Most importantly, chew your food well. Your teeth are in your mouth, and not in your stomach. Make it easier for your stomach to digest well.
Discuss with your dentist whether any new or replacement fillings should be delayed until after your baby is born. The Department of Health and Social Care advises that amalgam fillings should not be removed during pregnancy. Also, If you had gum problems during your pregnancy, see your dentist soon after delivery to have a full oral health check.
Dental treatment can be done only in the second trimester unless an emergency. So always better to get an oral checkup done when planning to conceive to address any small issues. And also in the second trimester to confirm all is well. Or if cleaning is needed. Since treatment will then not be possible until delivery and even after that difficult to move with the baby.
Radiographs during pregnancy are avoided. Hence an oral examination before conceiving is suggested.
Dental health during pregnancy
Pregnancy and teeth
Dental care and Pregnancy
The mouth-gut Axis
How your oral health affects your baby
How your gut health impacts your oral health