Prenatal Care for Expecting Mothers

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Prenatal Care for Expecting Mothers

Pregnancy and the first year of your baby's life are very special and important. You'll want to take good care of yourself and get your baby off to a healthy start. Your dental health is an important part of your overall health. Good oral health habits not only help prevent problems during pregnancy, they can also benefit the health of your unborn child.


Before Your Baby Arrives

What you eat during pregnancy affects the growth of your unborn child-including his or her teeth. Your baby's teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth month of pregnancy, so it is important that you receive enough nutrients, especially calcium, protein, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and D. It is a myth that calcium is lost from the mother's teeth during pregnancy. The calcium your baby needs is provided by your diet, not by your teeth. So be sure to get enough calcium in your diet. You can do this by having at least three servings of dairy products per day. Or your obstetrician may recommend that you take calcium pills. Snacking and Tooth Decay During pregnancy, many women feel hungry between meals. While this is normal, frequent snacking on sugary foods can cause acids to attack the teeth. Repeated acid attacks can cause tooth decay. Also, the infection caused by decay can spread. Either of these problems must be treated by a dentist. Try to resist the urge to snack constantly. When you need a snack, choose healthy foods for you and your baby, such as raw fruits and vegetables and dairy products. 


How Pregnancy May Affect Your Gums

Here's another reason to maintain good oral health while you are pregnant: Pregnancy hormones can make your gum tissue more sensitive to plaque. Your gums may become red, tender, and likely to bleed easily when you brush your teeth. This condition is called gingivitis (jin-ja-VIE-tis).

Gingivitis is very common during pregnancy (and afterward, if you nurse). Your dentist may advise you to have cleanings more often during your second trimester or early third trimester to help you avoid problems.

In some women, growths of tissue called "pregnancy tumors" appear on the gums, most often during the second trimester. These growths or swellings are usually found between the teeth and are believed to be related to excess plaque. They bleed easily and look red and raw. They usually disappear after the baby is born.

Daily Care

To help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque. Be sure to floss or use another between-the-teeth cleaner daily. Ask your dentist or hygienist to show you how to brush and floss correctly. When choosing oral care products, look for ones that have the American Dental Association's Seal of Acceptance, which tells you that they meet ADA standards for safety and effectiveness.

Dental Visits

When asked about your medical history, be sure to tell your dentist if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant soon. Also tell your dentist about any changes in your health, any medicines you are taking (whether prescription or over-the-counter products), or any medical advice your physician has given you.

During pregnancy, keep seeing your dentist regularly for oral exams and teeth cleaning. If you are worried about the effect any drug, treatment, or x-ray might have on your pregnancy, discuss your concerns with your dentist and physician.

Dental X-Rays

Radiation from dental x-rays is low. Current guidelines say it is more risky for a pregnant woman to postpone necessary dental treatment than to have an x-ray. This is because dental disease not treated during pregnancy can lead to problems for you and your baby.

Tell your dentist if you are or might be pregnant. If an x-ray exam is needed, the dentist will take steps to keep the x-ray exposure as low as possible.

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