Birth Defects and Oral Health

by Jason 1/28/2014 8:00 AM

“A good diet is the key." “Don’t stress!” “Exercise!”

When you are pregnant, the advice is never-ending! But there is very little conversation around how oral hygiene may affect your pregnancy. With all the mayhem of morning sickness, sleeplessness and crazy food cravings, who has time for oral hygiene? You should. Studies show that the oral hygiene of pregnant women has an impact on the pregnancy and the health of the baby

Women go through major hormonal changes during pregnancy. They will see a surge in hormones – particularly an increase in estrogen and progesterone – that can cause gum tissues to exaggerate a normal reaction to plaque. The plaque that is collected, if not cleaned regularly, can cause swelling of gums and cause “pregnancy gingivitis.” This can lead to many complications for pregnant women, which can in turn pose a threat to the child.

The harmful bacteria collected due to bad oral hygiene in pregnant women can be transferred to the unborn child. It could lead to complications like premature delivery and preeclampsia. It could also cause infections in the child that can lead to birth defects.

Apart from this, other effects of pregnancy may pose a risk to oral health. For example, most pregnant women experience morning sickness and spend a great deal of time throwing up. The stomach acid in vomit can erode teeth enamel. And the cravings! Victoria Beckham craved salmon during her pregnancy, but I doubt most of us would be hit with a craving so healthy. If it were me, I think I would crave for a big, gooey chocolate brownie. But naturally that much sugar just invites tooth decay.

With all these issues, oral hygiene should be a major concern during pregnancy. Here is a list of things that dentists suggest a pregnant woman should do to take care of her oral health:

  • Use fluoride toothpaste to brush at least twice a day.
  • Floss gently at least once a day.
  • If you do throw up, don’t brush your teeth immediately following. Instead, rinse your mouth with water mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Eat those veggies. Avoid sugar-filled or carbonated beverages, and choose fruit over fruit juices.
  • Visit your dentist regularly.

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