What you need to know to maintain a healthy smile throughout your pregnancy.

Pregnant women are no strangers to the doctor’s office, with the average mom-to-be attending 10 to 15 prenatal appointments. But, there are three important appointments that pregnant women sometimes overlook – their dental exams.

Did you know that dental problems can actually become worse during pregnancy? A staggering 65% – 70% of all pregnant women develop “pregnancy gingivitis.” “Pregnancy gingivitis” and “Pregnancy tumors” (benign growths that develop on the gums) can appear as early as the second month of pregnancy.

Dentists recommend dental visits before, during and after pregnancy because pregnancy alters hormone levels, which increases women’s chances of developing gum disease. This happens because elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone cause the gums to react differently to the bacteria found in plaque.

And gum disease can be harmful not only to the mom-to-be, but also to her unborn child, as there is emerging data that suggests a link between gum disease and premature births. It’s important to continually remove irritants like plaque and tartar that lead to inflammation of the gums and cavities during pregnancy.

Here are the ADA’s best tips  to maintain your oral health during pregnancy:

  • Dental exams and dental X-rays are safe. Let your dental office know what stage of pregnancy you are in when you make the appointment.
  • Brush thoroughly with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
  • Floss between your teeth daily.
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of Vitamin C and B12. If you snack, choose foods low in sugar like fruits, vegetables, plain yogurt or cheese.
  • If you need help controlling plaque, your dentist may recommend rinsing at night with an antimicrobial mouth rinse.
  • If you have morning sickness and are vomiting frequently, try rinsing with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water to stop stomach acid from attacking your teeth.

Talk to your dentist about your prenatal dental exams and which oral care products are best for you. Pregnancy is an exciting time, so take proper dental care and enjoy the ride!