Tooth Tips for Moms-to-BeBy Tegwyn Brickhouse, DDS, PhD, Chair of the Virginia Oral Health Coalition
By Tegwyn Brickhouse, DDS, PhD, Chair of the Virginia Oral Health Coalition
Oral health plays an important role in maintaining our overall health and well being, particularly among pregnant women. Oral infections, hormonal changes, pregnancy symptoms and diet changes can all affect the health of a mother and her baby. A higher level of hormones in a pregnant woman can cause there to be more plaque in her mouth, which may lead to gingivitis. In fact, one-third of pregnant women have periodontal disease, making them 7.5 times more likely to deliver their baby preterm. Gum disease may also increase a mother’s risk for diabetes or high blood pressure.
The Virginia Oral Health Coalition (VOHC), an alliance of over 100 individuals and organizations striving to integrate oral health into all aspects of healthcare, wants to raise awareness of the important role oral health plays in the health of the mother and her child.
The VOHC encourages all pregnant women to get oral health treatment, as recommended by an oral health professional, before delivery. Other tips for practicing good oral hygiene while pregnant include:
- Continue regular preventive dental visits to have your teeth examined and cleaned while planning a dental home for your new baby for their first visit at age one.
- Brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day. Replace your toothbrush every 3 or 4 months, or more often if the bristles are frayed. Do not share your toothbrush. Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner.
- Rinse every night with an over-the-counter alcohol-free mouthrinse.
- After eating, chew xylitol-containing gum or use other xylitol-containing products, such as mints, which can help reduce bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
- If you vomit, rinse your mouth with water to stop acid from attacking your teeth.
For more information and resources, visit www.vaoralhealth.org.