The Pregnant Mom-New Baby Oral Health Connection
We can sum up the oral health connection between you and your unborn baby in one word: bacteria. We all live with bacteria inside our mouths. And when you develop excessive bad bacteria, it can actually enter your bloodstream and travel to your uterus. Once that happens, the bacteria triggers prostaglandins – chemicals that contribute to premature labor. So making sure that you limit the amount of bad bacteria growing inside your mouth while you’re pregnant can help to reduce the risk of giving birth prematurely.
Even after your baby is born, you need to maintain a daily oral hygiene routine to control bacterial growth. That’s because you can pass on that bacteria to your newborn.
How Your Oral Health Changes During Pregnancy
If you’re having a harder time maintaining healthy teeth and gums when you’re expecting, it may not be due to poor oral hygiene habits. In fact, there are several reasons why pregnant moms experience more tooth decay and gum disease than women who aren’t expecting. Here are some contributing factors:
- Hormonal changes can leave you more susceptible to gum disease; so much so, in fact, that dentists have actually coined the term “pregnancy gingivitis” to describe it. If it’s left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, a more serious type of gum disease. Studies show that these problems are linked to premature babies and/or low birthweight babies.
- If you experience morning sickness during pregnancy, it can really take a toll on your oral health. When your mouth is repeatedly exposed to stomach acid, it can begin to erode your tooth enamel. And that leaves you at greater risk for tooth decay.
- Satisfying your cravings during pregnancy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if those cravings are frequent – and if you’re eating numerous times throughout the day – it can expose your teeth to more acidic foods and drinks than normal. That weakens the enamel layer of your teeth, increasing your chances of developing cavities.