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Oct202011

Expectant mothers should see a dentist

If you’re pregnant, you’re probably more inclined than usual to take good care of your health — visiting your doctor regularly, watching what you eat and drink, getting plenty of rest and engaging in moderate exercise. You may have even broken unhealthy habits, such as cigarette smoking, and you’re probably abstaining from drinking alcohol and limiting your caffeine.

After all, you’ve got a baby on the way, and you want to give your bundle of joy the healthiest start in life, right? Of course you do. Still, one area often overlooked by pregnant women is their dental health. Pregnancy can pose a strain on your body, and your mouth is no exception. Increased acidity in the mouth during pregnancy increases your risk of tooth decay. And, if morning sickness is causing you to vomit, your teeth are even more vulnerable. In fact, roughly half pregnant women fall prey to prenatal gingivitis.

Furthermore, heightened estrogen and progesterone levels can affect the ligaments and bones that support your teeth and inflame your gums, increasing your chances of losing teeth and developing gum disease. Some women even experience “pregnancy tumors” — overgrowths of gum tissue between the teeth that may bleed and ache.

What’s worse, untreated dental problems can pose risks to your fetus. Pregnant women with gum disease are at higher risk of giving birth to premature, low-birth-weight infants. And, in general, gum disease leads to a weakened immune system, which could increase your chances of contracting influenza and other potentially serious illnesses.

So, during pregnancy, it’s even more critical than usual to practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque at least twice each day and especially before bedtime. Also, try to floss every day. If you forget every now and then, that’s okay, but make it a daily goal to get it done.

Be sure to keep your routine dental checkup appointments. If you are not in the habit of visiting the dentist at least twice annually, for whatever reason (and you really should be in that habit), be sure to schedule one now, especially if you notice changes in your mouth, such as red and tender gums.

Bottom line is there’s nothing more precious to a mother than her baby. Preventative care is as easy as brushing, flossing and visiting your dentist. Don’t take risks where your health and your baby’s health is concerned.

 

Curtis H. Roy, D.D.S., has served Acadiana residents with a general dentistry and specialty practice since 1970. Find his practice on the Web at www.drcurtisroyandassociates.com, visit the office at 3703 Johnston St., Lafayette, or call 981.9811, and look for him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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