Your Dental Health

your dental healthThe health of your mouth can affect the health of your baby.

Start motherhood with a healthy mouth!

If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, taking care of your teeth and gums is especially important.

During pregnancy, you are more likely to experience serious gum disease or “periodontitis” (par-ee-oh-dawn-tie-tis) than before you became pregnant. This is because the hormone changes you experience during pregnancy make your gums more sensitive to plaque bacteria. The result can be increased swelling, bleeding, redness and tenderness.

Taking care of oral health during pregnancy helps overall health and helps keep both the mom and baby healthy. A healthy mom helps prevent babies that are born too early or at a low weight. Low birth weight babies are at higher risk for health concerns such as temperature instability, feeding and breathing problems and jaundice.

Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you know you are pregnant.

Ask your doctor about dental visits if you have a high-risk pregnancy. Dental cleanings,treatment, and local anesthesia are safe any time during pregnancy. Dentist recommended dental x-rays are safe for both you and the baby. Getting all of your tooth decay treated before the baby is born will help prevent the transmission of decay causing germs to your baby. Not getting needed dental care can cause health problems for both you and your baby.

Do you need help paying for dental care?

First Steps Program (Pregnancy Medicaid) provides medical insurance (prenatal medical, emergency dental and limited vision coverage). Call the Help Me Grow Washington Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or use the Benefit Finder to see if you qualify.

How to prevent gum disease

Your dental health may affect your baby even after he/she is born. Kissing and sharing food can spread bacteria that cause cavities. To protect your baby, keep your own mouth free of cavities and gum disease and start cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as they come in.

Watch for signs. Bright red (not pink), swollen or bleeding gums are signs of gum disease. Bad breath and loose teeth are also signs. If you see any of these signs call your dental professional right away.

Get regular check-ups. In general, you should visit the dentist every six months. During pregnancy it is especially important that to continue regular dental visits.

Brush your teeth. Take the time to brush your teeth every day – in the morning, at night and after meals. Brushing your teeth reduces your risk of gum disease.

Floss. Plaque can build between teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach. Using dental floss everyday can reduce plaque between teeth and around the gum line.

Limit sweet and starchy snacks. Soda pop, candy and chips contain a lot of sugar. These foods feed the bacteria that live in your mouth and cause gum disease.

Learn more at the The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center website.