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During pregnancy, the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby are important. While many mothers focus on living a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise, dental health is often overlooked. Here are some common ways hormonal changes can increase the risk of gum disease and other oral health issues, during pregnancy.

Pregnancy affects your gums. Pregnancy brings about significant hormonal changes in the body, particularly an increase in estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormonal shifts can affect the gums, making them more susceptible to inflammation and infection. This condition, known as pregnancy gingivitis, can lead to swollen, tender gums that may bleed during brushing or flossing.

Morning sickness can erode teeth. Expectant mothers may experience dental problems such as morning sickness. Unfortunately, morning sickness can lead to erosion of tooth enamel, but rinsing the mouth with water after vomiting can help mitigate these issues.

Cravings can lead to cavities. So long as your doctor advises it’s okay to give in to cravings for sugary foods in moderation, sugary, sweet, or sticky treats can leads to cavities if you don’t follow good oral hygiene habits. Be sure to rinse your mouth with water after eating, brush your teeth at least twice a day, and balancing out your diet with nutritious snacks to support a healthy smile.

Dry mouth in pregnancy. Thanks to pregnancy hormones and your body’s increased need for water during this time, dry mouth is a common occurrence and can lead to tooth decay and infections. Increase your fluid intake, suck on ice chips, and have chew on sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva. However, excessive dryness in the mouth despite drinking lots of water may be a symptom of gestational diabetes, so consult your physician.

Research suggests a link between maternal periodontal disease and issues such as preterm birth and low birth weight show that poor dental health habits during pregnancy can have serious consequences for both mom and baby. Remember to brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily to remove plaque and food particles, use an antimicrobial mouthwash, and keep your regular dental check-ups during pregnancy; you’re brushing for two!