Pregnancy takes a huge toll on the body, so it comes as no surprise that your teeth also become impacted by this drastic change. During pregnancy, the body starts producing a lot of hormones which contribute to significant side effects, such as morning sickness (which we all know isn’t reserved for just the morning, unfortunately), heartburn, fatigue, increased urination, moodiness, increased swelling, and more. Then there’s the major physiological changes in your skin, hair, and weight. And let’s not forget about the temporary reshuffling of your internal organs! Today, however, we look at your teeth specifically and how the miracle of bringing life into this world can impact them. Continue reading to learn more about how you can take care of your dental hygiene whilst pregnant.
What Changes Occur To Your Body When Pregnant That Affect The Mouth?
Pregnancy sees many changes to the body, some of which are described above. One of the many changes involves the increased acidity of the mouth. This can cause decay and bacteria growth. Some women may also experience “pregnancy tumours” – this sounds alarming, but most of the time it’s completely harmless. These tumours, officially known as pyogenic granulomas, are red, lumpy lesions that appear along the gum line and between the teeth. They often disappear once the baby is born, but of course, see your doctor or dentist should there be any concern at any stage. At Admire Dentistry, the highly trained dentists understand the complex changes that occur in your mouth and to your teeth during pregnancy. They’ll help settle your nerves by discussing any concerns you may have – if you’re looking into getting particular treatments done, they’ll help you navigate what’s safe to do while pregnant.
While pregnancy gets a bad rap for affecting teeth, on the other side of the coin, having poor dental hygiene affects pregnancy too.
How Can Poor Dental Hygiene Affect Your Unborn Baby?
Taking care of your teeth before and during pregnancy deserves the same level of priority as any prenatal care, such as taking supplements, getting exercise, and eating a healthy, balanced diet. Developing bacterial infections or gum disease can potentially harm your baby if left unmanaged. Gum disease in particular can cause low birth weight and premature birth. Further, mouth bacteria from decay and cavities, when ingested, can be transferred to the unborn baby. This can prompt early childhood decay in your baby’s teeth. As with your general health, you want to be on-the-ball with your dental health if you are trying to conceive or maintain a healthy pregnancy with the best possible outcome for your baby’s health and teeth.
Protecting Teeth Through Morning Sickness
If you thought that morning sickness couldn’t get any worse, we hate to disappoint. Morning sickness – and vomiting in general – is not ideal for your teeth. Many pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting within the first trimester, and this increased frequency in vomiting over a short period of time starts to take a toll on teeth. The main issue is the acidity from vomit and stomach bile, which causes the enamel to erode. Acid reflux can also cause tooth erosion due to the high acidity levels coming into contact with your teeth.
To minimise the effects of tooth erosion from morning sickness, ensure you rinse with fresh water immediately but do not brush your teeth straight after vomiting as it can remove softened enamel. Rather, wait about 20–30 minutes to give your enamel time to harden and rinse your mouth with water to neutralise acidity. Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste after waiting, to give your enamel the best chance to strengthen. Another tip is chewing gum afterwards – this can also promote saliva which naturally neutralises the mouth’s pH levels.
Do you find the toothpaste aisle a bit of a toothache to navigate? Check out our recent article to see how the experts weigh in on which toothpastes you should and shouldn’t be using.
Increased Risk of Gum Disease
Because of hormonal changes, gum disease (or periodontitis) can be developed while pregnant. This condition ranges from mild to severe – from minor irritation to serious infection being experienced. Severe gum disease can introduce possible long-term health risks for the baby and mother, so it’s important to seek advice when symptoms first emerge. If you start to notice any of the following symptoms, it’s a good idea to book in an appointment with a trusted dentist to help you manage gum disease early.
Signs of gum disease include:
- bleeding gums
- red gums (instead of pink)
- swollen gums
- bad breath
Dental Check Ups While Pregnant
On top of maintaining your bi-annual check-ups with your dentist (or more frequent check-ups if you are managing a particular condition), if you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to book in an extra visit to reassure you that your teeth are healthy and in good condition. Of course, if at any point during your pregnancy you notice significant changes to your gums, teeth, or mouth, you can book an additional appointment. Symptoms to be aware of include the list above, and some additional symptoms such as, extra sensitivity, irritation or inflammation, pain, and any bumps. Maintaining proper dental health through regular check-ups with your dentist is beneficial towards your overall health and that of your child throughout pregnancy.
Nervous about going to the dentist? Baby steps! Start by reading this article on how to overcome your fear of the dentist.
General Habits to Maintain Throughout Pregnancy
When you’ve got the added responsibility of taking care of two lives, rather than one, taking your health seriously becomes a priority. So, here are some simple steps you can take to ensure you’ve got the best grip on the situation.
- Eat well. Your diet contributes hugely to your oral and overall health – including your teeth!
- Drink plenty of water and try to avoid sugary and acidic drinks. Water not only flushes away any food from your teeth, but it will also assist your digestion and salivary health, keeping your mouth healthy.
- Quit smoking. This is generally advised against when pregnant, but many dentists will encourage patients to quit to improve their oral health. Smoking can cause many health problems including oral infections and mouth cancer.
- Ensure you attend regular dental checkups, more frequently than you previously did. Due to the changes occurring in your body it is beneficial to be extra vigilant.
- Up your dental routine. Now is a good time to be extra particular about your dental routine. Include brushing, flossing, mouthwash etc – which is recommended you do already.
- Check your pH. If you’re concerned about the acidity in your mouth (especially if you suffer from severe morning sickness), you can purchase saliva pH strips to test pH level in your mouth. This will give you an indicator of whether you need to change your diet to neutralise or increase this.
With so many bodily changes and rushing hormones associated with pregnancy, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. However, you don’t have to bear the concern for what’s going on with your teeth alone – let the friendly and experienced dentists and professionals at Admire Dentistry support you by looking after your teeth at this time.
Admire Dentistry is a modern and eco-friendly dental clinic located in the heart of Arana Hills. Providing a broad range of dental services and utilising the latest pain management technology, our warm and friendly staff ensure that every dentist visit is a pleasant experience. Contact us if you have any questions about our services or book an appointment today.