Oral Hygiene: What New Moms Need to Know

It wasn’t long ago that pregnant women were advised to steer clear of the dentist out of concern over how various procedures might affect their unborn child. Turns out that routine cleanings and dental work are considered safe for most expectant moms and  may play an important role in a baby’s safety and health, too. Because of hormones, expectant mothers are more prone to oral infections and gum sensitivity, which can lead to early labor. Here are some easy-to-follow pregnancy tips for keeping your mouth (and your new baby) healthy.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #1: Keep your appointments. Regular cleanings and checkups are an essential part of anyone's oral hygiene regimen, but are especially crucial for pregnant women, whose hormonal changes put them at risk for a number of dental problems.  While these routine visits are safe for most women, it’s still important to let your dentist know you’re having a baby and to discuss any medical issues related to the pregnancy. Occasionally, women with high-risk pregnancies are advised to postpone certain treatments until after the new baby has arrived.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #2: Don’t fear simple procedures or X-rays. Although it’s always better to save elective procedures for after your due date, cavities and other common dental problems can and should be treated in order to avoid infection. Second trimester is the ideal time to take care of such issues, as the dentist’s chair can be quite uncomfortable by your third trimester!

While routine X-rays are commonly delayed for pregnant women, advancements in technology have greatly reduced the threat of radiation exposure. Should an X-ray be needed for an emergency procedure, your dentist will take extra precautions to ensure your baby’s safety.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #3: Watch your gums. Don’t focus only on your pearly whites: The hormonal surges that come with having a baby can also wreak havoc on your gums. Pregnancy gingivitis -- which results in inflamed and sore gums  -- and “pregnancy tumors” -- benign but sometimes painful lumps along the gum line  -- are particularly common. If you notice anything abnormal going on with your gums, call your dentist.

Oral hygiene pregnancy tip #4: Make oral hygiene part of your daily routine. As helpful as your dentist may be, oral health begins and ends at home. If you have morning sickness, try a more mild or bland toothpaste (ask your dentist or mommy-friends for suggestions). On the other hand, avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting, as the still-present stomach acids can eventually cause teeth erosion and wear away at your enamel. Instead, rinse out with a combination of baking soda and water, which will leave your mouth fresh until it’s safe to brush.

You have a lot on your plate during pregnancy, but making the time for proper oral hygiene will go far to boost both your and your new baby’s health.