In case you didn’t notice from all of the Facebook, Google +, and Twitter updates, you’ll hopefully have caught the news that your West Seattle dentist, Dr. Christine Kirchner is pregnant with her second little boy! While we wish her a huge congrats on the impending birth in September, you may have wondered how pregnancy can affect your oral health. No for real, I’m sure you’ve wondered that. If you haven’t, than let me tell you that it can have a huge impact on your oral health, and likewise, your oral health can have an effect on your un-born child’s health, including their oral health!
If you aren’t quite pregnant yet, but plan on being so in the near future, you should think about scheduling a dental check up to make sure everything is ship shape in your mouth. This can prevent you from having a possible dental emergency while you are pregnant and get any dental concerns under control before you conceive. Studies have shown that there may be an association between gum disease and pre-term birth and low birth weight babies. In addition, a recent study says that pregnant women with gum disease may be more likely to develop gestational diabetes. Yikes. So how do you keep gum disease at bay while you’re pregnant?
Well for one, continue to brush and floss. Keep getting regular dental check-ups and cleanings. Dr. Kirchner sometimes recommends an extra cleaning while you are pregnant so she can keep a close eye on your oral health. Women can develop “pregnancy gingivitis” from all of the extra hormones raging through their bodies, so an extra cleaning isn’t a bad idea to keep that under check, along with good home care (like, you know, brushing twice a day and flossing).
The optimal time to check in with the dentist may be during your 2nd trimester. Usually, if you are suffering from morning sickness during your 1st trimester, it will have (hopefully) subsided by the second and you won’t feel as gaggy. If you get morning sickness, do not brush your teeth immediately after being sick. You may want to brush right away, but the acid from your stomach can cause tooth erosion and brushing will only make it worse. Rinse thoroughly with water and then wait an hour before you brush.
Another tip that seems like a no brainer while pregnant is eating healthfully. Its easy to give into cravings and just eat what *ahem* the baby wants (trust me, I’ve been pregnant three times now!). But snacking all day because you are always hungry, and especially on sugary or carb loaded snacks just gives bacteria the fuel to make as much plaque as possible. If you aim for a more healthful snacking routine, like fruits and veggies, etc, you’ll be better off. And water. Drink lots and lots of water. All that water flushes the mouth and helps keep food for the bacteria out of there.
One last thing that seems unavoidable almost and what we all strive for pregnant or not is just to try to stay healthy and not get sick. Especially during the 3-6 month period of pregnancy. If the mother gets sick during this time, it can possibly adversly affect the teeth that are developing in the baby during that time. Wash your hands often and avoid sick-os like the plague!
Being pregnant is a crazy enough time in every mother’s life as it is. If you maintain healthy home oral health habits, that will be one last thing you have to consciously worry about!
For more information about oral health and being pregnant, check out the ADA’s website MouthHealthy.org
Here’s also a pretty cool video that they have up on the site about being pregnant too!
And if you happen to visit the office before September, wish Dr. Kirchner happy 2nd baby!