Life as a new mom is hectic and unpredictable. Some days you might not even leave the house but you’ll still be wiped out at the end of a busy day keeping your baby fed, well and happy. You probably get ready in record time in the mornings and might be doing everything one-handed while carrying your baby. Your bedtime is probably dictated by your baby, and you might not always find time to get ready for bed properly before you drift off.
Unsurprisingly, it’s common for oral hygiene to suffer as parents adjust to life caring for a new baby. You’re probably struggling to find time to floss and although that might not seem like a big deal, dental hygiene is really important so, as a new mom, it’s worth prioritizing it.
What is oral hygiene?
Oral hygiene is about how you take care of your teeth and gums. Good oral hygiene is the art of keeping your teeth and gums disease-free. Good oral health allows you to speak clearly, enjoy food and show your emotions on your face.
Poor oral hygiene
If you don’t take care of your teeth, you’re likely to suffer from poor oral health. Associated conditions include gum disease, tooth decay, bad breath and tooth loss. Poor dental health can be uncomfortable, with many patients suffering from pain as a result of poor oral hygiene habits.
Why is oral hygiene important?
Oral hygiene is important to avoid the symptoms above, but there are other reasons why it’s worthwhile to maintain good oral health.
A 2010 study into the link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease concluded ‘from the scientific evidence gathered so far that interventional periodontal care remains invaluable, not only for oral health but for general health as well’.
Oral periodontopathic bacteria can travel into the airways and lungs, leading to aspiration pneumonia. A 2013 study concluded, ‘Evidence suggests that improving oral hygiene might reduce the risk of respiratory infection among subjects who are at risk’.
Older adults with tooth loss have an increased risk of dementia. A 2019 study found that ‘periodontitis appears to be associated with cognitive impairment/dementia’.
What are the benefits of good oral hygiene?
Good hygiene will reduce your risk of suffering from the conditions listed above. Other benefits of proper oral hygiene include a healthy smile, aesthetically pleasing teeth and good breath. These things may sound unimportant but they can give you a big confidence boost and help you to make a good first impression.
How to have good oral hygiene
To maintain good oral health, you must make taking care of your teeth a habit. If it comes naturally to you and is something you don’t have to think about, you’re more likely to have good dental health. It takes time for something to become a habit, so set yourself a challenge to prioritize your oral hygiene for two months. By the end of that period, oral hygiene should be one of the healthy habits you continue to practice with ease.
The more you understand why taking care of your teeth and gums is important, the more likely you are to prioritize this daily ritual. Educate yourself about the risks of poor oral hygiene and the benefits of proper oral hygiene.
Oral hygiene routine for moms
To enjoy good oral health, here are the basics: the 5 oral hygiene routines mothers should follow:
#1. Brush twice a day
You should brush your teeth for two minutes right before bed and again for two minutes at another point during the day. Most people choose to do this straight after breakfast or right before leaving the house in the morning, but it’s up to you when you choose to do the second cleaning. Twice a day for two minutes a pop is the important thing to remember when it comes to brushing your teeth. Make sure you change the head of your toothbrush every three months to ensure the bristles are effective when cleaning your teeth.
#2. Clean between your teeth once a day
Cleaning between your teeth is known as interdental cleaning. Traditionally, people use dental floss to clean between their teeth, though there are other tools you can use (including tiny interdental brushes designed to slot between teeth). Make sure you brush and floss between your teeth daily, as this is crucial to protect your gums from bacteria.
#3. Visit the dentist regularly
For busy moms, regular visits to the dentist are the most important steps you can take to protect your dental health. Your dentist will spot problems before they become serious, so make sure you visit the dentist’s office for regular checkups. While you’re there, it’s important to have an appointment with the dental hygienist, who will give your teeth a thorough clean and remove any built-up plaque you might have missed.
#4. Pay attention to your diet
Reducing your sugar intake could help protect your teeth. Try to reduce the amount of sugar you consume and how regularly you consume it. It might sound obvious, but the less sugar you consume, the better it will be for your oral health. A healthy diet, rich in fresh veggies and greens, is better for your teeth than an ultra-processed sugary diet.
#5. Model good oral hygiene
As a mom, you should take care of yourself the way you want your kids to take care of themselves in the future. By prioritizing your oral hygiene, you can teach your child to prioritize theirs. Make sure they see your dental routine, attend dental visits and hear you talk about taking care of your teeth.
A 2018 study in Vietnam found that “Maternal oral health was significantly associated with the dental health of their children’. If you want your kids to have nice teeth, you need to educate yourself about the importance of practising good oral hygiene.
Oral changes in pregnancy
Pregnant women should practice good oral hygiene because pregnancy can affect oral health. During pregnancy, you might notice your gums bleed more easily; this is due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy. You could be more at risk of gum disease during pregnancy, too, so it’s important to practice good oral hygiene when pregnant.
If you suffer from pregnancy nausea, you might struggle to clean your teeth as often because of the taste of your toothpaste, Alternatively, you might clean your teeth more frequently to get rid of the taste of vomit.
Be sure to schedule regular dental checkups during pregnancy so your dentist can keep an eye on your oral health and answer any questions you might have.
Don’t forget to tell your dentist you’re expecting, as you might want to skip dental X-rays during pregnancy.
For more information about dental checkups while pregnant, read BellyBelly’s article Seeing the Dentist in Pregnancy | 19 FAQs.