Health & Safety

June 28, 2012

Pregnancy and oral hygiene

Tips from your D-M Dental Clinic

Capt. K.J. Chang, Capt. M. Joosse, Staff Sgt. K. Detrick
355th Dental Squadron

Are you expecting? Hoping to be expecting? Pregnancy is a special time, and a time filled with anxieties and questions like, “how can I ensure that I have a healthy baby?” and “how should I take care of myself when I am pregnant?” The following is some advice to help keep you healthy during pregnancy and having a healthy baby in the future.

The first step towards having a healthy baby is by taking care of yourself during pregnancy. Your developing baby, and their developing teeth, requires nutrients such as calcium, protein, and vitamins A, B, C, and D. Obstetricians will recommend prenatal supplements to help ensure you receive all the necessary nutrients. Frequent snacking is a common urge during pregnancy, and excessive consumption of carbohydrates can lead to tooth decay. When you snack, consider choosing fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Prenatal vitamins and a balanced diet will help keep you, and your developing baby healthy.

Aside from a healthy and balanced diet, hygiene is tremendously important. During pregnancy, your body’s hormone levels rise considerably. The increased progesterone level combined with plaque and bacteria cause “pregnancy gingivitis” or irritated gums during pregnancy. Your gums may be red, puffy and tender; they may bleed when brushing. Sometimes, expecting women experience “pregnancy tumors.” These are non-cancerous overgrowths of gum and are caused by plaque accumulations and poor oral hygiene. These “tumors” bleed easily and have a raw-looking, mulberry-like surface. “Pregnancy tumors” usually resolve with a thorough cleaning but sometimes must be surgically removed after giving birth. A key component of both “pregnancy gingivitis” and “pregnancy tumors” is plaque accumulations on teeth. Both can be prevented with impeccable oral hygiene.

Research indicates that infants are infected with their parents’ bacteria between the age of zero and two. Emerging research shows the amount of bacteria transmitted from parent-to-child significantly affects the health of the child up to the age of 12. Good oral hygiene during pregnancy can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and significantly affect the dental health of your child into adolescence.

Finally, new research found that gum disease may be linked to pre-term birth and low-birth-weight babies.

For questions regarding dental care during pregnancy, contact the Dental Clinic at (520) 228-2650.

Additional information can be found on-line at the American Dental Association’s website: www.ada.org (Click Public Relations, then search “pregnancy” under Oral Health Topics).

 

So what can you do to keep your mouth healthy during pregnancy?

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, as this will help guard against tooth decay.
  2. Clean between your teeth by flossing at least once per day.
  3. Schedule a regular dental checkup and let your dentist know that you are pregnant. He or she will advise you on how to properly brush and floss your teeth.
  4. If you are a dependent, sign up for the Tricare Dental Insurance Plan. Plans are very cheap and, in addition to the two cleanings that are paid for each year, a third cleaning is covered during the year you are pregnant. More information can be found at www.tricare.mil



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(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

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