Updated: Apr 25, 2020
Pregnancy is a thrilling and exciting time for families, and it's full of milestones that are worth celebrating. One thing that often escapes us during this whirlwind 40 weeks, is the toll it can take on the mouth.
Gums can often become swollen or tender, and may bleed during brushing. Happily, they usually return to normal after delivery, and any sensitivity should also settle. In the meantime, keeping up a thorough oral health regime will help, and Dr. Rymer at Expressions can guide you through any issues.
Often during pregnancy the body can go in search of calories to sustain the baby's development, the fastest way for the body to get these calories is in sugar. We can often crave high sugar snacks like cake or biscuits, and drinks like sugary tea or coffee or worse, fizzy drinks.
These are obviously damaging to the teeth. We have heard of people with normal diets craving all sorts of odd things that might be bad for the teeth including; tinned pineapple (acidity and high sugar), peanut butter on Oreo cookies (sugar content), sucking lemons (the most erosive fruit, very acidic), avocado and grapefruit salad (is that a dessert or a main course? grapefruit is highly acidic) and pickles (highly acidic). The article below from Buzzfeed sets out some of the wackier cravings out there, but none is as strange as the last one on their list...
Often during pregnancy the temptation is also to eat lots of little snacks during the day rather than the three normal meals. This increases the frequency of sugar exposure and increases the damage to the teeth. It is important to try to eat a varied and balanced diet to try to limit the number of snacks during the day, and avoid the sugar cravings.
Various changes to the body during pregnancy including hormonal changes, increase blood flow to the gum tissue, which can cause gums to become more sensitive, leading to inflammation and bleeding. This condition is referred to as pregnancy gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. It affects between 50% and 70% of women at some time during their pregnancy. It is as if the body is just reacting more aggressively to the same bacteria.
If we don't keep on top of this it can develop into full periodontal disease, which affects the bone and other tissues supporting the teeth. It is important therefore, to keep the teeth and gums as clean and healthy as possible during pregnancy, by maintaining a good oral health routine. Attend Expressions for a routine examination and a scale and polish to keep on top of any plaque or calculus deposits.
Some mums will experience morning sickness during pregnancy, and those that do need to think twice before reaching for their toothbrush to scrub their mouth.
When you are sick, your teeth are exposed to acid, which can soften your enamel. If you brush straight away, you can risk damaging your enamel further while it is still softened. Instead, rinse your mouth with water or a mouthwash, and wait 30 minutes before brushing. Sugar-free gum can also help by stimulating saliva flow which helps protect against acid attack.
Ideally, schedule a dental check-up before you are pregnant, to ensure that any outstanding or urgent treatment can be completed.
It is safe and recommended to continue to visit your dentist or dental hygienist for a check-up and routine dental work during pregnancy. However, dental x-rays should be avoided while pregnant. Always make sure to tell your dentist that you are pregnant. Most dental treatments can still be carried out during pregnancy, but there are some small modifications that we would make to how we do it. Some lengthy treatments are best delayed until after baby has arrived. Even if you needed something like root canal treatment, we can at least stabilise the tooth and ensure you are pain free until after your due date. No one wants their tooth to be causing trouble in the delivery room, at that point you have enough on your plate.
6 Pregnancy Oral Health Tips:
Brush teeth well at least twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste
Floss teeth every day or use interdental brushes
Avoid snacking on food or drinks with high sugar levels
Introduce a soft-bristled brush for sensitive teeth
Rinse with water or alcohol-free mouthwash after morning sickness, and chew sugar free gum
Schedule a dental check-up and professional clean with Sarah