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Oral care during pregnancy -- 10 do's and don'ts

Want healthy teeth and maintain oral hygiene? Brush your teeth twice a day. That being said, the right way to brush is about as important as the act itself. Here is a step-by-step guide to brushing teeth the right way.

Tips and tricks to keep your teeth healthy during pregnancy.

Written by Debjani Arora |Published : April 16, 2015 6:05 PM IST

Brushing and flossing are important for your overall well-being, more so when you are pregnant. Your oral health is directly linked to fetal health. Bad dental practises or infections in the mouth can impact fetal development.

Why you should worry

Studies indicate that the body releases hormones in response to an infection that are similar to the ones released during labour. So an oral infection whether it is cavities, inflammation or bleeding gums, mouth ulcers can lead to similar consequences, says Dr Shantanu Jaradi, Aesthetic Dentist, Dentzz Dental Care, Mumbai. Here are five things every woman should know about dental care during pregnancy.

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Here are a few ways your poor oral health can affect your baby:

Your child may have dental carries

Oral infections are a communicable disease and can be passed from a mother to the child. Researchers suggest that there is a link between maternal oral health during pregnancy and the development of early childhood caries. It affects up to 1 in 10 children below the age of 6 across the globe, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, says Dr Jaradi. Here is why it is important to maintain gum health during pregnancy.

You and baby are at higher risk for various conditions

It can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, can increase the risk for lifelong conditions in the baby such as cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease or even premature death. In fact, if you suffer from gum disease during pregnancy, you are six times more likely to deliver your baby early than women with healthy gums. Here is how your gums are affected during pregnancy and you never knew about it.

What you can do to avoid these problems?

Here are some dos and don'ts suggested by Dr Jaradi, to help keep your teeth shining and healthy:

1. Go for an early check-up: Dental care should be your priority during your conception phase. Make an appointment with your dentist to know about the status of your dental health, get a professional clean-up done and treat cavities or infections early.

2. Brush and floss regularly: This shouldn t just be a morning ritual. Instead, try brushing your teeth after every meal if possible to avoid plaque and tartar build-up. However, you can floss your teeth just once during the day. Remember, it is common to develop gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) due to changes in hormones during pregnancy. So keep your oral cavity clean and hygienic. Here is why brushing and flossing is more important during pregnancy than you thought it to be.

3. Plan a mid-pregnancy check-up: Since hormonal changes can trigger oral problems, it is better to visit the dentist preferably after the first trimester and get a professional clean-up.

4. Rinse your mouth often: If you suffer from morning sickness, rinse your mouth thoroughly after vomiting. In case you need to clean it further, use a brush to do it. Clogged food particles can lead to acidity in the mouth and have a deteriorating effect on the teeth.

5. Watch what you eat: Wholesome foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products are better for your teeth. Include vegetables, preferably during every meal, and snack on fruits often. Also, eat foods that are rich in fibre such as cereals and grains. Have oatmeal or whole grain bread for breakfast as they reduce mouth acidity. Here are top 10 foods for healthier teeth.

6. Increase your fluid intake: Drinking adequate amounts of water has a lot of health benefits during pregnancy and is good for your oral health too. It washes the toxins out from the mouth cavity and keeps the gums healthy. Having a glass of milk can also help to boost your calcium levels and improve your dental health.

7. Don't go for a dental procedure after conception: X-rays and medications used during dental treatment can impact the growth of the fetus. So it is not advisable to go for any dental procedures during the first trimester and the third one.

8. Don't avoid brushing: Even if you suffer from bleeding gums during pregnancy, don t avoid brushing. Switch to a soft bristle toothbrush for comfort.

9. Don't snack on sweets: Avoid sweet and sticky foods that tend to be high in refined sugars. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, chew sugar-free gum for ten minutes after eating a snack. Here are few foods that you should avoid for better dental health.

10. Don't self-medicate: At any point in time, never try to treat a toothache or bleeding gums with over-the-counter drugs. Seek the help of your dentist and keep your gynecologist in the loop while getting treated for dental troubles.

Image Source: Getty Images

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