Why diet matters for your pregnancy and oral health?
Pregnancy can be one of the most wonderful and stressful times in your life, with a million and one things to do and keep in mind. If your diet and oral health are not already on that list, they should be. As a dentist for over 20 years, I’ve seen firsthand how important both diet and oral health are to your pregnancy, and have helped countless women work on both of them. Today we’ll look at why your diet and oral health matter, and what you can do to stay on track during your pregnancy.
Why is diet important?
Diet is very important for a pregnant woman for a few key reasons. The first, and probably the most obvious, is that the nutrients you take in are passed directly to your baby. If you don’t have a good diet both you and your baby will not get the nutrients you both need to grow. Taking in the right nutrients can help keep your mouth healthy as well.
Having a healthy mouth is important as an unhealthy one can lead to serious pregnancy complications. For example, gum disease has been linked to premature birth, which shows the seriousness of oral health during this time in your life. With diet playing a key role in oral health, it’s easy to see how important it is to your pregnancy.
What foods should I avoid?
The key thing to avoid is sugar. Sugar is what the bacteria in your mouth feed on, the same bacteria that cause gum disease among other things. Having a diet low in sugar is key to keeping a healthy mouth.
One of the biggest culprits of excess sugar is things like pops and juices. These drinks are loaded with tons of sugar, and many people don’t recognize just how much is in each drink. Cutting back is a good first step to reduce your overall sugar intake.
You should also cut out other sugary things like candy or adding sugar to coffee. That’s not to say you can’t have any sugar, but the less the better. Everything in moderation is the key to keep in mind.
Dealing with pregnancy cravings
Cravings are one of the biggest problems for many women when trying to stick to a diet when pregnant. These can be difficult to resist and come at odd times for odd foods. The problem is that cravings can lead to a lot of snacking, which in many cases is made up of unhealthy snacks. This can then lead to further tooth decay.
The goal here is to replace those snacks with healthier alternatives, so when you do snack it’s with foods that are good for you. Doing a bit of meal prep goes a long way here. There are a lot of easy to make, healthy foods that will keep for several days. Preparing things like hard-boiled eggs is a great way to have something better for you to reach for when cravings strike.
It’s also important to note that despite sugars’ role in tooth decay and gum disease, it’s not all bad. Having a bit of sugar here and there is not going to be a big deal, it’s only when you overdo it. The key here is moderation and balance if you’re already keeping up with a good diet, adding a little sugar here and there is okay. It’s best to make sure you brush your teeth after consuming sugary items.
Other tips for a good diet and good oral health
Another thing you can do is drink lots of water. The benefits here are twofold. One is that many places put fluoride in their water, which can help strengthen teeth.
The other is that drinking water can help you feel fuller and turn away from more sugar-filled drinks. Drinking water can help stop binge eating and suppress cravings, while at the same time providing hydration.
Diet is also not the only thing that matters. Despite its large role in oral health, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You also want to make sure that you’re taking care of your teeth at home, as well as visiting the dentist regularly. Diet alone won’t be enough to keep your teeth healthy, so make sure to keep up a good oral health routine of brushing twice a day, flossing and using mouthwash.
Your diet and oral health both play an important role in your pregnancy. Working to keep both in check is important for your health, as well as that of your child. Keep this in mind during your pregnancy, and never be afraid to talk to your dentist about any oral health concerns you may have.
Dr. Amanda Tavoularis (dentably.com)