Dental Care

Why is dental care before pregnancy important?

Should I be drinking fluoridated or unfluoridated water?

Why is dental care before pregnancy important?

The health of your teeth and gums, also called dental care or oral health, may possibly affect the growth and development of your fetus.

It is important to brush and floss your teeth to prevent gingivitis.  Gingivitis, a gum disease, and other oral infections can lead to poorer maternal nutrition due to pain or discomfort while eating. More importantly, studies show that gum disease and oral infections can increase your risk for premature birth and low birthweight babies from either preterm labor or premature rupture of the membranes (meaning your water breaks early).

If you think you might be pregnant and have an appointment with your dentist or if a dental emergency arises, be sure to tell your dentist that you might be pregnant or that you're planning to get pregnant.

It's a smart idea to tell your dentist about your plans to become pregnant so you can schedule any special work, treatments, or X-rays before you conceive.  As a rule of thumb, dentists prefer to do only emergency and routine hygiene/cleaning procedures on pregnant women.  But, some dentists may fill cavities as well.

You will want to avoid X-rays if you think you might be pregnant even though dental X-rays (especially those taken with newer machines) don't send out large amounts of radiation.  If X-rays are necessary, be sure your dentist always covers you with a lead apron for protection.

Should I be drinking fluoridated or unfluoridated water?

Fluoride helps prevent cavities. Therefore, to reduce the likelihood that you'll have to be treated for cavities or gum disease during your pregnancy, it's a smart idea to get some fluoride into your system on a regular basis before you become pregnant.

You have a number of choices of fluoride sources. You can get your fluoride through your tap water (depending where you live -- it varies by state), fluoridated bottled water, or by using a fluoride rinse or fluoridated toothpaste (twice a day).

Your dentist can tell you if you're getting enough fluoride.

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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 10/26/2012