If you are a new mother, or will be one soon, then you should know that your smile is key to having a healthy baby.
On top of feeling good about having a brand new bundle of joy, your teeth and gums should reflect good oral hygiene, which has been linked to health care measures to prevent premature birth in expectant women.
If you need another reason to be happy about giving birth, good teeth and gums are at the top of the list so you and your baby are healthy.
Dentists emphasise the need for good oral hygiene and dental care before and during pregnancy. In addition, a number of studies have found that pregnant women with periodontal disease – a more serious form of the gum infection gingivitis – are more likely to have a preterm or low birth-weight baby. Preventing oral disease is key to overall health, dentists say. And that not only includes improving access to dental care but making changes at home.
According to Baby World, some mothers often worry that dental treatment during pregnancy is not safe. This is not true.
There should be no difficulties in maintaining your routine dental programme during pregnancy, and it is in fact strongly advised.
Due to hormone changes, some women’s dental health may require closer attention at this time. One of the more frequent problems is that you could start to notice your gums begin to bleed easier than before and more often.
Hormone changes during pregnancy increase the risk inflamed gums, and as a result, they will bleed.
The best course of action to prevent this is to maintain a strong level of oral hygiene and go to the dentist for regular check-ups as often as recommended.
This could include visits to the practice’s hygienist for a comprehensive clean. They will also be able to give you further advice on how to care for your teeth when you are at home.
Even though visiting the dentist is essential during pregnancy, some dental-related treatments are probably best left until after the birth.
For instance, the Department of Health recommends that if you require need an amalgam filling, or a top-up of an old filling, that it waits until after the child is born. Additionally, if you require for any reason, a dental X-ray during pregnancy, dentists will generally avoid this until after the birth also.
Another vital point for pregnant women in maintaining good oral health is that you must have a healthy and balanced diet. Getting all the required vitamins and minerals into the body has an overwhelmingly positive effect on the development of the baby’s overall bodily health and dental health.
A good idea would be to cut out sugary snacks and drinks between meals to prevent your teeth from decaying.
According to Mindful Mum, before you try for a baby, make an appointment with your dentist to check your teeth and gums. This way, any problems can be rectified, and if you need a filling, this can be done before you are carrying a baby.
Make sure you are brushing daily, flossing and using mouthwash (alcohol free!) to keep your mouth healthy before you conceive. If your toothpaste is making you feel sick during your morning sickness stage, switch to a bland tasting brand.
Your dentist will be able to advise one to you. As stomach acid is damaging to teeth, rinse your mouth with water following sickness.
While pregnant, your dental care is free on the NHS, if you are a registered NHS patient and have a current maternity exemption certificate. If you have suffered from any gum disease or bleeding gums during pregnancy, it’s important to see your dentist after you have given birth to have your oral hygiene re-examined.
Again, amalgam fillings are not advised for breastfeeding mothers. Your free dental healthcare continues on for a year after baby is born, so no excuses not to get to the dentist!
If you’re not registered with a dentist, and you can’t find a dentist who is willing to give you free NHS treatment, contact your local primary care trust. It is obliged to find you a dentist in your area who can provide NHS treatment, although it may not be the dentist nearest to you. The number should be in your phone book, or your local doctor’s surgery can give it to you, according to Baby Centre. You can also try the NHS Choices website.
But what if you don’t want to wait for an appointment through NHS, and you need to see a private practitioner right away? If you have an insured dental plan, you may be able to visit your dentist without waiting too long. Another option would be to see a dental office that takes a discount scheme. With a very inexpensive membership fee, you can sign up and see a participating dental practitioner immediately anywhere in the UK as often as you wish. You receive a discount with those locations, and your dental care is done as often as you need at a good savings to you.
One of the few discount dental schemes in the UK is through Healthy Discounts, and you and your family can participate for not a lot of money. If you are pregnant, or are planning a pregnancy soon, one of these plans may help you speed up the process of maintaining proper oral hygiene. Remember, life is precious, especially when you are dealing with babies. It’s in your best interest and that of your child to keep your smile in great shape. You’ll have more than one reason to do so. Love your smile, and love your baby.