Back pain, morning sickness, fatigue, hunger — it’s hard to know exactly what to expect when you’re expecting. Tooth troubles may seem secondary to other symptoms, but they matter more than you realize. Here’s how to keep your smile glowing throughout your pregnancy:
• Your hormones aren’t the only things changing.
The same pregnancy hormones causing you to sob during a Sarah McLachlan commercial affect your teeth too. Increased estrogen and progesterone levels multiply dental plaque. Because of a surplus of the sticky stuff (bacteria), many women are prone to get pregnancy gingivitis. It’s characterized by inflammation of the gums, swelling and tenderness. Plus, studies consistently link periodontal disease to pre-term and low-birth-weight babies.
• You’re eating (and brushing) for 2.
The “eating for 2” cliché makes it easy to justify eating an entire pint of ice-cream (it’s the only size you need, right?).
You do need to consume more when you’re expecting but aren’t justified eating the whole pint. Your baby’s teeth start to grow as early as 3 months into your pregnancy. Make 2 smiles and 2 bodies strong — eat a balanced diet and maintain good oral hygiene. If you’re not careful, you could pass harmful cavity-causing bacteria to your baby.
• You need to have more than an ultrasound.
Add a dentist visit to your new nursery and gender reveal party plans. A dental check-up may not be top of mind, but it’s a key to a healthy pregnancy. If you’re newly expecting, bring your baby-to-be belly to the dentist. A routine cleaning will keep your smile on-track.