Being a mommy-in-the-making means all sorts of sacrifice. Of course, many ladies give of themselves gracefully — knowing it’s all worthwhile once baby arrives — but that can be hard to remember between weight gain, nausea and backaches. Not to mention hormonal changes, putting careers on hold, and — last but not least — giving up sushi and wine for nine months.
During this time, a mom-to-be can get so focused on making everything perfect for her little one that she can neglect her own health – perhaps thinking it’s just another necessary sacrifice.
During pregnancy, self-health shouldn’t decline in any way. A mom who cares for herself is also caring for her unborn child. That’s especially true when it comes to oral health.
It’s common for a future mom’s tooth and gum health to decline during pregnancy. Here are few contributing factors:
- We’re all busy during the day and tired by bed time, but add in a pregnancy, and that leads to a whole new level of fatigue. As a result, routine nighttime brushing and flossing can get skipped – and between all the OB visits, who has time for dental check ups?
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy can alter the health of mom’s gums. All the changes can cause so-called “pregnancy gingivitis.” That can lead to a more serious problem where bacteria gets into the bone below. In laymen’s (laywomen’s?) terms, that could mean a serious gum infection that could destroy bone supporting the teeth.
- Morning sickness and nausea will make the mouth very prone to cavities. If unaddressed, stomach acid that works its way into mouth will erode enamel. As a result, expectant moms can be more at-risk for cavities.
- Taking in more calories is necessary (and, let’s face it, occasionally fun,) but frequent snacking and grazing puts teeth in constant contact with acid in food. This also leads to increased production of acid-loving bacteria that cause dental problems such as Strep Mutans.
What’s more, a mom’s oral health is connected to the health of her unborn baby – and it can all be traced to the bacteria in her mouth.
When a pregnant woman has excess bacterial growth in her mouth, it can enter the bloodstream through her inflamed gums and travel to the uterus — triggering the production chemicals that can lead to premature labor.
After baby arrives, mom is the most likely person to pass her bacteria onto her newborn (thin cuddling, breastfeeding..etc).
If you’re looking for a soundbite at this point, here you go:
a mom whose oral health isn’t great is more likely to pass aggressive and damaging bacteria to her newborn.
So, while eating the right foods, avoiding the wrong ones (ahh, sushi…) and making all sorts of sacrifices to make their baby perfect, moms need to keep their oral health as a top priority.
It may not seem like it at the time, but making the extra effort to brush, floss, and eat tooth-healthy can make a big difference for the newborn’s health.