When you’re pregnant your body chemistry can change in a number of ways. With your hormones off the charts, it’s not that surprising that you’d suffer mood swings, cravings, nausea, and even stranger occurrences like increased olfactory aptitude. Then, of course, there is the fact that your mammary glands will kick into high gear at some point and begin lactating. In truth, you’ll go through all kinds of changes that you never anticipated when you’re expecting a baby, and one that surprises a lot of women is the difference in oral health. While you can basically discount the myth that you’re going to lose a tooth every time you find yourself in the family way (who comes up with this stuff?), it is true that you could see some change in your oral health during pregnancy. Oddly, your spike in hormones can result in altered oral chemistry, leading to changes in how your mouth reacts to plaque buildup. And this, in turn, can cause swelling and gum disease if you fail to treat it accordingly. So here are just a few tips that can help you to maintain optimum oral health until your body is back to normal.

1.  Floss and rinse regularly. Although you know you’re supposed to adopt a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing in order to achieve the best oral health, many people slack on the latter two tasks, assuming that brushing is generally enough to get the job done between dental cleanings. However, this may not hold true during pregnancy. You really need to get between teeth and below the gum line, places that a toothbrush simply can’t reach, when you’re fighting plaque and tartar buildup. So make sure to get every food particle with floss and kill bacteria with a suitable mouthwash like Listerine. This will give you the best shot of keeping your teeth and gums in ship shape.

2.  Drink lots of water. This is essential for your health in general, especially when you’re pregnant and hydrating for two. But it can also be a major boon to your mouth. Your saliva does a lot to clear out harmful elements like stuck-on food and bacteria. But it can only do so much. When you sip on water throughout the day you can bolster your mouth’s natural defenses between daily cleanings.

3.  Cut back on sugar and starch. You may crave ice cream and peanut-butter-and-pickle sandwiches during gestation, but if you want to protect your oral health (and a healthy pregnancy, to boot) you should probably steer clear of the sugars and starches you crave, at least to some degree. Not only will these foods pack on the pounds, and not in a healthy way, but they’ll also impact your teeth. Since these items cling to teeth, they can linger long after you’ve eaten, attracting and feeding bacteria and promoting plaque and tartar buildup.

4.  Add dairy to your diet. Pregnant women are often advised to add more dairy to their diet anyway, but you might not realize that it can also help your oral health. The calcium can keep your teeth strong, of course, but you’ll be happy to hear that cheese can also balance the pH in your mouth, reducing the acidity that breaks down your enamel. So long as you’re not lactose intolerant, this is great news.

5.  Check in with your dentist. You may want to schedule additional appointments for cleanings and check-ups during your pregnancy, especially if you only make annual visits. This is the best possible way to ensure that changes in your oral health are addresses before they can do any lasting harm. So schedule an appointment with Windermere Dental Group or your favorite local dental professional and see to the health of your smile – you’re going to want it looking good for all the photos you’ll take with your newborn.