Oral Health During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your teeth, gums and mouth are affected by hormonal changes just like the rest of your body. Gum health is particularly important during this time, as there is a significant connection between oral health and overall health.
Most commonly around the two month mark (although this does vary from person to person), you may notice your gums begin to bleed easily when you brush or floss, a sign of gum disease commonly known as “pregnancy gingivitis”. This is normally temporary, however it can weaken the tissues that hold your teeth in place and you shouldn’t ignore it. If you’ve kept up a regular routine of brushing, flossing and dental visits before pregnancy, it is possible it won’t affect you.
Morning sickness can also affect your teeth (this applies when you’re not pregnant as well!) as vomit is acidic and can have an erosive effect on the teeth. It’s tempting to brush your teeth immediately, but brushing within an hour of vomiting can cause more damage to your teeth by stripping away the enamel.
Instead of brushing try some of these options: rinsing your mouth with plain water, ¼ teaspoon of baking soda mixed into 1 cup of warm water, chew sugar-free gum or try eating an acid-neutralising food such as milk or hard cheese.
You might also experience dry mouth which reduces the amount of saliva you produce, which is not ideal as it is a key factor in keeping the bacteria that cause tooth decay at bay.
Increase your water intake, chew sugar-free gum or for more severe cases, your dentist can recommend or prescribe dry mouth rinses, toothpastes and other alternatives.
Cravings for different foods are common, if your cravings are appealing to your sweet tooth, try healthier options such as fresh fruit with natural or Greek yoghurt (perhaps some naturally sweetened dark chocolate as well!).
It’s important to add your dentist to the list of health professionals alongside your GP and obstetrician whom you consult regularly. You need to make regular visits to your dentist in the lead-up to, during and after your pregnancy a priority, as well as extra time and attention to your at home oral hygiene routine.