Dental hygiene especially important for mothers-to-be

Diana Velazquez thought skipping her bi-annual trip to the dentist wasn't a big deal, that is, until she became pregnant.

When she found out an increase in oral decay and gum disease could lead to pre-term labor, though, the priority of getting her pearly whites looked went up.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control revealed that almost half of women in Maryland who gave birth in 2009 and 2010 reported poor oral hygiene. In addition to potentially going into labor early, doctors say that not taking care of your teeth during pregnancy could put an unborn child at risk of infections or low birth weight.

"All of these things you've got to look for and be careful with," Dr. Idalia Rosado-Torres, the chair of the OB/GYN department at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, said. "I think sometimes we forget."

Morning sickness can play a major role in the health of your teeth during pregnancy. During a woman's first trimester, when morning sickness is frequent, women can develop a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. It can affect a future mother even if there are no signs of nausea or vomiting.

"You're eating a little more frequently, and you still have to take care of your teeth," Dr. Rosado-Torres said."

Just like everyone else, doctors recommend that mothers-to-be brush and floss daily. If you have morning sickness, doctors recommend a dimple mouth wash of water and baking soda.

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