Many moms-to-be are so busy preparing for their baby that they overlook their own personal wellbeing – including that of their teeth. Dental care during pregnancy is more than simply resisting sweet cravings. Here’s what all expectant moms need to know about caring for their teeth and gums.
When you’re pregnant, you’re given lots of advice – avoid soft cheeses, shellfish, over-rich foods, sugar and alcohol; eat more veg and check your iron levels. But, it appears, a subject that often isn’t addressed is the importance of looking after your teeth. Yet the changes to your body that occur during pregnancy – hormonal fluctuations, appetite levels – affect teeth as well.
So we’ve listed the main points you need to remember about dental care during pregnancy:
Don’t ignore bleeding gums
The principal cause of tender gums and even mouth ulcers in pregnancy is the change in your body’s hormones. In fact, having tender gums is quite common; you may even find that your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. Nevertheless, if you’re troubled with bleeding gums, we recommend that you visit your dentist to rule out gum disease, as pregnant women with severe gum disease may be at an increased risk for pre-term delivery.
Nausea and vomiting can affect dental health
The contents of your stomach are high in acids, so it stands to reason that pregnant women who suffer with severe morning sickness and vomiting run the risk of eroding the enamel on their teeth. We recommend that you rinse your mouth with water or with a fluoride mouth rinse after vomiting, and wait about 30 minutes before brushing to allow the enamel to recover after the acid attack.
Your baby needs calcium to develop – do you lose calcium from your teeth?
Absolutely not! It’s an old wives’ tale that the calcium in your teeth is affected by your baby’s need for the mineral to promote bone growth. Your baby’s source of calcium is provided by your diet, not by your teeth. However, if you are eating insufficient calcium, your body will make up the deficit from stores in your bones. Dental care during pregnancy includes eating plenty of calcium rich foods or taking supplements recommended by your obstetrician. Our ever-popular Flora Force DensiMAXTM is ideal. It’s a natural multi-mineral supplement that is plant based, and provides the essential minerals your body needs and is safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It also contains vitamin D, one of the essential vitamins for bone development. Get yours at Faithful To Nature. As always, consult your healthcare practitioner before taking natural remedies.
Visit your dentist
It’s quite safe to visit your dentist while you’re pregnant. You should avoid, if possible, dental treatment during your first trimester and during the last three weeks of your pregnancy, and try to schedule major procedures and surgery until after your baby is born. If in doubt, ask your dentist to contact your obstetrician about required procedures such as treatment for dental infections, which can pose a risk to the foetus, or if you need an X-ray. (Dental X-rays emit very low levels of radiation.)
Daily routine for dental care during pregnancy
- Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush twice a day
- Floss daily
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash daily, preferably an alcohol-free option
Eat correctly for your teeth and your baby
- Eat a balanced diet. Have you ever wondered why some of the poorest people on the planet have the widest, whitest smiles and the healthiest of teeth? Substantial research reveals that the answer lies in their simple diets.
- Dairy products such as cheese (preferably white) and yoghurt (plain, unflavoured) are good sources of the essential minerals, including calcium, that help your baby’s developing teeth (which begin to develop about three months into pregnancy), gums and bones.
- Eat other calcium-rich foods. Here are 20 natural food sources of calcium: broccoli, bok choy, spinach, kale, collards, kale, okra, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, cabbage, fennel, celery, leeks, coconut meat, onions, avocados, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried apricots. Have a calcium-rich food at each meal and snack because your body uses calcium best when it is eaten in small amounts at different times during the day.)
- Vitamin D. You need 50 micrograms of vitamin D each day during pregnancy and while you’re breastfeeding, which equates to six cups of milk, juice or soy beverage with vitamin D added each day. If that doesn’t appeal to your tastebuds, speak to your natural healthcare practitioner about a supplement. Flora Force’s plant-based DensiMAX™ also contains vitamin D. A bonus? Vitamin D was found by dental expert Dr Weston Price, Sir (Dr) Edward Mellanby (the discoverer of this vitamin) and Dr May Mellanby to support actual dental healing!
- Craving sweet things is common during pregnancy, but try to avoid sugary snacks. Have a few squares of good-quality dark chocolate without added sugar, a spoonful of honey or yummy home-made date balls (follow us on Facebook for an easy recipe).
- Alcohol.There is no known ‘safe’ amount of alcohol to drink when you’re pregnant, so we advise you to avoid it. Foetal alcohol spectrum disorders are 100 percent preventable if you avoid alcohol while pregnant.
We wish you, your teeth and your baby a happy and healthy pregnancy!
Acknowledgements & Photo credits
Article compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer.
- BumblesTM. Dental care during pregnancy. http://bumblescookeryclub.co.za/blog/dental-care-during-pregnancy/
- Price, Weston A. Nutrition and physical degeneration. Price-Pottinger Nutrition Foundation. US. 1939, 8th edition.
- Sister Lilian Centre. www.sisterlilian.co.za
- USDA Food Composition Databases. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/index
- Photo courtesy of Herney / Pixabay.com