We all know that what you eat during pregnancy affects the growth of your baby. Did you also know that what you eat affects the development of your baby’s teeth? Teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth month of pregnancy and what you eat or don’t eat while pregnant can have long lasting affects on your baby’s teeth. It is important to make sure you are getting the nutrients needed to promote healthy teeth for your baby’s future. Those nutrients are calcium, protein, phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and D.
Another area that expectant mothers should be aware of during pregnancy is the health of your gums. Research suggests that the bacteria that causes inflammation in the gums causing Periodontal Disease (gum disease) can actually get into the mother’s bloodstream and target the fetus, potentially leading to premature labor and low birth weight babies. When plaque builds up on your teeth making your gums red, swollen, and likely to bleed, it is called gingivitis. During pregnancy, your hormone levels rise greatly making your gums more sensitive to gingivitis and it is common to have what is called “gestational gingivitis”. Regular dental visits and cleanings are imperative to keep this condition from progressing into the Periodontal Disease that can be detrimental to your child.
Lastly, there is understandable concern about the amount of radiation a woman is exposed to during pregnancy. It is important to know, however, that the amount of radiation from digital dental x-rays is very low. It is actually more risky for a pregnant woman to go without necessary dental care than it is to have a dental x-ray. Untreated dental disease and other issues can lead to problems for you and your baby. When having a dental x-ray during pregnancy, make sure your dentist is using digital x-rays for the lowest amount of radiation exposure. Also, ask to have two lead aprons placed over your belly just as an extra precaution.
During pregnancy it is important to keep up with your dental care, including regular visits to the dentist. If you are ever worried about treatment, x-rays, or a drug prescribed during pregnancy, discuss those concerns with your dentist and physician. It is important to be well informed of all the risks involved with having or postponing dental treatment.