Pregnant women have special needs for dental care including proper oral hygiene and good general nutrition. If proper dental care is followed during pregnancy, the mother and unborn child's dental health will be protected.
Meticulous oral hygiene is needed during pregnancy, as minor oral problems can be amplified. Tooth decay can be more pronounced, as many women will eat more often and select foods that contain more sugar than in their normal diets. If plaque -- the sticky film of bacteria that resides on teeth -- is allowed to stay and mix with the foods, it will form acid and decay teeth. This acid remains on the teeth for about 30 minutes. Brushing teeth well twice a day and flossing once in the evening will limit the potential for decay. Also, this unremoved plaque can cause "pregnancy gingivitis." This is an irritation, which makes the gums swell and bleed easily. The increase in hormone levels during pregnancy can cause this to appear more frequently. Proper hygiene can minimize this effect.
While "eating for two" is a common saying, better snacks, less sugars, and proper flossing and brushing can minimize the effects of more frequent eating. What a woman eats affects the development of the child's teeth. Teeth are forming before birth, and calcifying during the first six months of pregnancy. During this time, it is important to have a balanced diet, which includes calcium. No calcium is removed from the mother's teeth in favor of the child's teeth. A pregnant woman should continue with her regular dental visits during pregnancy. The dentist should be informed of your condition so she or he can plan for your care. Non-emergency treatment can be performed safely. It is best to schedule care for the middle three months of pregnancy. There is less chance of complications, and the mother has usually passed the stage of being nauseous. The last three months are more uncomfortable to sit for long periods in a dental chair. If necessary, X-rays can be taken. X-rays are taken using a lead apron to protect the child and only if very important.
With proper planning and good dental care, you and your child will have a lifetime of healthy smiles.
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