Oral health and pregnancy

Taking care of your teeth and gums is very important when you are pregnant. During pregnancy, your hormones change; this can affect your oral health and your risk of gum and bone disease.

Keeping your teeth and mouth healthy can decrease your risk of having a pre-term delivery or a low birth-weight baby. Schedule a checkup in your first trimester to have your teeth cleaned and your oral health checked.

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Diet choices

To keep your teeth strong and healthy during pregnancy, follow Canada's Food Guide for healthy diet choices. Make sure the food you eat includes enough:

  • calcium
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin D
  • protein, and
  • phosphorous

During pregnancy, you have different nutrient needs. Make sure to take a daily multivitamin that has 0.4 milligrams (mg) of folic acid and 16 to 20 mg of iron.

Include calcium in your diet

Calcium is an important part of your diet. Your growing baby needs it for strong bones and teeth. If your diet is low in calcium, your body will take it from your own bones and teeth for your baby.

Make sure to eat enough foods high in calcium, like dairy products, and take a calcium supplement if necessary. That way, both you and your baby will have enough of this mineral without putting your bones and teeth at risk.

Choose healthy snacks

You can eat healthy snacks in-between meals to meet your daily nutritional needs. Just try to avoid soft, sweet and sticky snacks that are high in carbohydrates and sugar.

Some ideas for healthy snacks are found in Pregnancy and Healthy Eating. Remember to clean your teeth after eating to prevent cavities.

Health risks

If you have good oral health, you can prevent a number of risks to you and your baby. Pregnant mothers with poor oral health have a risk of:

  • delivering a pre-term baby
  • delivering a baby with a low birth weight
  • having pre-eclampsia (pregnancy hypertension)

Babies who are pre-term or have low birth weight have a higher risk of:

  • developmental complications
  • asthma
  • ear infections
  • birth abnormalities
  • behavioural difficulties
  • infant death

If you have any questions about your oral health, schedule an appointment with your oral health professional in your first trimester.

Bleeding gums

Your hormones change during pregnancy, and this can affect your gums. They may be more sensitive and they might bleed easily.

Pregnancy gingivitis

Anytime between the third and ninth month of pregnancy, you may experience "pregnancy gingivitis." Pregnancy gingivitis is when your gums are swollen, red or irritated from bacteria along the gum line. Your gums are sensitive because your estrogen and progesterone hormones have increased.

Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft toothbrush using fluoride toothpaste. Gently clean your teeth at the gum line, where gum disease starts. Don't forget to floss!

Visit your oral health care provider for checkups during pregnancy, because sometimes gingivitis can turn into periodontitis. Most of the time, gum problems will disappear after childbirth. If they continue, contact your oral health professional.

Morning sickness and oral health

If you vomit from morning sickness, take care to rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride mouth wash. Stomach acid left on the teeth can damage your teeth and cause them to decay. After rinsing your mouth, wait for at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.

Visit your oral health professional

Schedule a checkup in your first trimester to have your teeth cleaned and your oral health checked. If you need dental work, like cavity fillings, the best time to have it done is between the fourth and sixth month of your pregnancy (the second trimester).

It is a good idea to avoid X-rays while you are pregnant. X-rays of your mouth should only be taken in an emergency. If you need an X-ray, make sure you are covered with a lead apron to protect your baby from radiation.

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