Pregnancy is a joyous time for many women. But as many know and care to point out, it can be the most uncomfortable nine months you may ever experience. Bodily changes are to be expected, but did you also expect them to happen to your mouth?

While pregnancy and dental health don’t usually come to mind, they shouldn’t be overlooked. Indulging in poor oral health practices while pregnant can have detrimental effects. Many studies have shown that expectant mothers with poor oral health have a higher risk of delivering a pre-term baby and delivering a baby with a lower than normal weight.

Oral health care while pregnant isn’t rocket science, though. If pregnant women do their due diligence and follow best practices (discussed further on in this post), the state of their mouth shouldn’t be an issue.

Related: Common Oral Problems During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Gingivitis: Pregnancy gingivitis can occur anywhere between the third and last month of pregnancy. Common symptoms include bleeding and swollen gums. This pregnancy tooth pain is caused by increased levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body. These hormones exaggerate the way gums react to irritants in plaque.

Solution: Invest in a soft-bristled toothbrush, and gently brush at least twice a day along the gum line using fluoride toothpaste. A lack of Vitamin C also contributes to this problem, so an increased intake would be helpful.

Tooth Erosion: Morning sickness is a common ailment that affects dental health because vomiting exposes teeth to acidic fluids. While throwing up once in a while won’t harm your teeth too much, vomiting multiple times a day will. According to BabyCenter, “Up to three-quarters of pregnant women have at least some nausea or vomiting during the first trimester.” Teeth repeatedly exposed to stomach acids can decay and lose their enamel faster.

Solution: A first instinct would be to brush your teeth after vomiting. However, this awful idea will harm your teeth more. Enamel is soft after vomiting, and brushing removes and thins it. Instead, rinse your mouth with a mixture of water and baking soda. A tongue cleaner can remove excess residue.

Oral Best Practices for Pregnant Women

The solutions above will assist you with common teeth and pregnancy-related problems, but there is more you can do to increase the general health of your mouth while pregnant.

Eat Fewer Sweets: Bacteria living in your mouth feed off sugar, causing cavities and general soreness. If your will power is gone and you really must eat that large piece of triple chocolate brownie, make sure to brush afterward.

Eat Healthier Foods: Increasing your intake of certain vitamins can assist in maintaining strong oral health. Calcium, Vitamins A, C, and D, protein, and phosphorous will keep your teeth strong and healthy. While sweets may be off the table, feel free to drink plenty of milk and enjoy some cheesy meals.

Visit Your Dentist: Scheduling an appointment with your dentist is a wise idea. This visit should occur in your first trimester. They may also provide some suggestions to prevent more serious problems or dental emergencies from occurring.

Women often overlook their dental health while pregnant, but it’s an integral part of a healthy pregnancy. To prevent tooth pain and more discomfort, pregnant women should be conscious of their diet and be cautious while brushing. Pregnant women can rejoice in this knowledge, though—most pregnancy-related tooth pain goes away after the baby is born.

For more information about dental health during pregnancy and general mouth care, follow our blog for regular updates.