Ten little fingers, 10 tiny toes and a cute little nose – but what about bright, white healthy teeth? With so much to think about during pregnancy, it’s easy to overlook dental care.

Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase your risk of developing gum disease. These changes also can affect the health of your developing baby.When you’re expecting, caring for you means caring for two. Due to the physical connection you share, your baby can be affected by not only the foods you eat but also the environment in which you live, work, and play. Here are some ways that you can take control of your oral health (mouth and teeth) during your pregnancy.

Dental care should be part of every prenatal health care plan for every woman. Here are five easy ways to ensure you’re getting the best oral care during pregnancy and after.

  1. Keep up with regular dental visits. Some women hesitate to seek dental care during pregnancy because they fear it could harm their unborn baby. However, forgoing or delaying treatment poses a much bigger health risk.
  2. Cope with morning sickness. Brushing your teeth while bracing yourself against a riotous stomach may seem nearly impossible, but many women find it easier if they use a bland-tasting toothpaste. You should also rinse out your mouth with water or mouthwash after vomiting, because stomach acids can erode protective tooth enamel.
  3. Likewise, brushing your teeth too hard may further scratch enamel, so be gentle.
  4. Eat a tooth-friendly diet. Your baby’s first teeth begin to develop about three months into pregnancy. Given that your baby eats what you eat, consuming a variety of nutritious foods is a vital part of prenatal care. A healthy diet includes dairy products, including cheese and yogurt. These are sources of calcium and essential minerals that are good for baby’s developing teeth, gums and bones.
  5. Keep up with daily care. Nothing can replace daily at-home dental care. To help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, brush your teeth thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes at least twice a day. Once a day, clean between your teeth with floss.
  6. Keep your baby’s mouth bacteria-free. Babies are born without the bacteria that cause tooth decay in their mouths, but parents and caregivers will often unknowingly pass it to them by using the same spoon or cleaning pacifiers in their own mouths. Avoid introducing these bacteria to your babies by keeping your own teeth and mouth healthy and properly cleaning anything that will go in your child’s mouth.