Before you become pregnant, it is best to have dental checkups routinely to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you are pregnant and have not had regular checkups, consider the following:
• Have a complete oral exam early in your pregnancy. Because you are pregnant, you might not receive routine x-rays. But if you must have x-rays for a dental problem needing treatment, the health risk to your unborn baby is small.
• Dental treatment during pregnancy is safe. The best time for treatment is between the 14th and 20th weeks. During the last months of pregnancy, you might be uncomfortable sitting in a dental chair.
• Do not avoid necessary dental treatments — you may risk your and your baby's health.
• Use good oral hygiene to control your risk of gum diseases. Pregnant women may have changes in taste and develop red, swollen gums that bleed easily. This condition is called pregnancy gingivitis. It can be caused by both poor oral hygiene and higher hormone levels during pregnancy. Until recently, it was thought that having gum disease could raise your risk of having a low birth weight baby. Researchers have not been able to confirm this link, but some research is still under way to learn more.
After you give birth, maintain good oral hygiene to protect your baby's oral health. Bacteria that cause cavities can transfer from you to your child by:
• A kiss on the mouth
• Letting your baby put her fingers in your mouth
• Tasting food on your baby's spoon
• Testing the temperature of a baby bottle with your mouth
You also should find a dentist for your child by age 1.