Pregnancy and your dental health
Pregnancy creates enormous changes in your physical body. These changes, especially on the hormonal level, can impact many aspects of your health including teeth and gums. While it’s easy to let dental care take a back seat to other health concerns, you should actually pay close attention to it while you’re expecting. Apart from the usual advice to maintain your oral health, there are some specific things you can do during during pregnancy.
Routine dental treatment is safe during pregnancy, although some procedures or medication should be avoided in the first 3 months, so be sure to tell your dentist you are pregnant.
Pregnant women who experience morning sickness with vomiting and/or acid reflux are at high risk of tooth erosion. Tooth erosion is the gradual wearing away or dissolving of the outer enamel layer of your teeth. Here are a few tips to help reduce the risk of tooth erosion during pregnancy:
- Rinse your mouth immediately with water or a mouth rinse.
- Chew sugar free gum to stimulate saliva to neutralise and wash away acid.
- Smear a little bit of toothpaste over your teeth with your finger.
- Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing to avoid damaging softened enamel surface.
Women are at risk of developing gum disease during pregnancy because of natural hormonal changes. Gum disease can develop quickly and have impacts on our overall health. In pregnant women, the infection associated with severe and untreated gum disease can affect an unborn baby’s development, increasing the risk of premature birth and of delivering a low birth weight baby.
Signs of gum disease include:
- Bleeding gums
- Red gums (instead of pink)
- Swollen gums
- Bad breath
Dealing with food cravings and morning sickness
Unusual food cravings are a fact of life for many women during pregnancy. A combination of increased sugary foods and hormonal changes, can significantly impact your oral health. If your cravings take a turn towards the sweet foods, a healthier option is fresh fruit with natural yoghurt. If you do have foods like chocolate, lollies and juice, then thoroughly rinsing with water immediately after will reduce the amount of sugar and acids left on your teeth.