Pregnancy does not automatically damage your teeth. The old wives tale that warns a woman to expect a lost tooth for every baby is false. If the mother’s intake of calcium is adequate during pregnancy her bones, not teeth will provide the calcium her growing baby needs. This calcium loss is quickly made up after breast feeding has stopped. However the demands of pregnancy can lead to particular dental problems in some women. With proper hygiene at home and professional help from your dentist your teeth should remain healthy throughout the pregnancy. YOUR DENTAL HEALTH CAN AFFECT YOUR BABY. Research has found a link between gum disease in pregnant women and premature birth with low birth weight. Babies who are born prematurely may risk a range of health conditions including cerebral palsy and problems with eyesight and hearing. Estimates suggest that about 18 out of every 100 premature births may be triggered by periodontal disease which is a chronic infection of the gums; appropriate dental treatment for the expectant mother can reduce the risk of premature birth by more than 80 per cent according to one study. PRE-PREGNANCY DENTAL HEALTH. You are less likely to have dental problems during pregnancy if you already have good dental hygiene habits. Suggestions include: • Brush your teeth at least twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste. • Floss between your teeth. • Visit your dentist regularly. If you are planning on getting pregnant see your dentist. It may be more convenient to have elective procedures (or procedures that involve the use of x-rays) done before you conceive, for example new fillings or the replacement of old amalgam fillings. Otherwise they may need to wait until after the first trimester. INFORM YOUR DENTIST. Tell your dentist if you are pregnant. Pregnancy may affect your dental care, for example the dentist may defer x-rays until after the birth, or if dental x-rays are unavoidable the dentist can take extra precautions to ensure your baby’s safety. If your dental condition requires general anesthesia or drugs see your LMC for advice.