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Why You Need To See Your Dentist -- Now!

As soon as you know you're pregnant, you make an appointment to see your ob. But it's a good idea to make one with your dentist too, even though most moms-to-be put it off until they give birth for fear of harming the baby. Not smart.

Your gums will probably be more sensitive -- they'll be puffier and more likely to bleed after brushing or flossing. And because of surging hormones, the plaque on teeth builds up, making them more susceptible to bacteria and infection.

That could lead to something more serious. Pregnant women with periodontal problems may be at risk of preeclampsia and are up to seven times more likely to give birth prematurely because the chemicals the body manufactures to fight off the infection can also trigger labor.

To keep your teeth healthy:

Book that checkup (don't forget to let the office know that you're pregnant). Besides doing a thorough cleaning, your dentist can gauge your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. And anytime you have a toothache, don't hesitate to call.

Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristle brush to minimize bleeding, and floss daily.

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