Pregnancy and Oral Health

Pregnancy and Oral Health

The old wives’ tale that a tooth is lost for every pregnancy is simply not true. While it is true that pregnancy may intensify some dental conditions, misconceptions continue to exist about some effects of a woman’s pregnancy on her health.

As with anyone, tooth decay results from repeated acid attacks on the teeth. A pregnant woman would be more susceptible to tooth decay if she increased her snacking on sugar-rich foods and did not maintain good oral hygiene.

Gingivitis (gum disease), however, may occur more frequently during pregnancy due to a rise in the body’s hormone levels. These increased hormones exaggerate the way gum tissues react to the irritants in plaque, the sticky layer of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. A pregnant woman may prevent gingivitis by keeping her teeth clean with thorough brushing and flossing.

Eating a balanced diet during pregnancy is important for healthy gums. Also, since the baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth month of pregnancy, it is important that the woman receive sufficient nutrients, especially vitamins A, C, and D; protein; calcium; and phosphorus.

Calcium is not lost from the mother’s teeth during pregnancy, as some have mistakenly believed. The developing baby’s need for 400 milligrams of calcium per day is supplied by the mother’s diet. If a mother’s diet is inadequate, this mineral will be depleted from the mother’s bones.

A woman should continue regular dental visits throughout her pregnancy, but the optimal time for elective treatment is the fourth through sixth month of pregnancy.

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