Pregnant Mums: how to take care of teeth during pregnancy
For many women, looking after teeth during pregnancy is sometimes forgotten about. But being pregnant doesn’t mean your teeth should suffer.
How does gum disease affect pregnancy?
Poor dental health during pregnancy can adversely impact your baby. Alarmingly, research has found a link between severe gum disease during pregnancy to low birth weight in the baby as well as premature labour. Up to 18 in every 100 premature births could be linked to severe gum infection. This figure is disturbing considering that gum disease is preventable and treatable. In fact, treatments for gum disease can be safely done by your dentist during any stage of pregnancy.
Better yet, there are easy ways to help keep your mouth healthy throughout pregnancy. As we often say, prevention is better than a cure!
How to look after teeth with morning sickness
One issue many pregnant women deal with is vomiting and difficulty keeping food down. Unfortunately, this is a huge contributor to dental problems during pregnancy. This is due to reflux: the stomach acid that comes up when you’re feeling queasy or throwing up.
Each reflux episode means a large amount of stomach acid washes over your teeth and softens the enamel. If this happens often, the acidity eventually erodes all of the tooth enamel, leaving nothing to shield your teeth from bad bacteria and disease.
It’s important to note too that tooth enamel erosion is permanent.
If you’re experiencing constant nausea, try to avoid brushing your teeth for at least one hour after vomiting. Using an abrasive brush when your tooth enamel is in a softened state will wear it away. Instead, it’s better to use a basic bi-carb soda mouth rinse.
For the rinse, dissolve 1 teaspoon of bi-carb soda in a glass of warm water. Gargle this around your mouth after each time you vomit. Admittedly, this mixture does not taste good. But a bi-carb soda rinse is effective because it helps to neutralise the acidity in your mouth quickly.
How to look after teeth with food cravings
While some pregnant women find it hard to keep food down, others may have the opposite: feeling really hungry and snacking all the time!
While it’s important to make sure you’re eating well when you’re pregnant, it’s equally important to keep the number of times you’re eating to less than 5 times per day.
Every time you eat, no matter how much or how little food, your mouth environment becomes acidic. This is a natural part of the body’s digestive process. Snacking throughout the day leaves your mouth in a prolonged acidic state, which significantly increases the chance of getting cavities and tooth decay.
Considering this, it’s important to limit the number of times a day you eat in order to give teeth enough rest between eating periods. To help keep your eating frequency to less than 5 times a day, we suggest eating your meals and snacks all in one go rather than nibbling at them throughout the day.
Perhaps, this is the perfect excuse to eat that whole block of chocolate you’ve been craving (…along with daily nutritious meals, of course!)
Dealing with bleeding gums during pregnancy
Many women notice their gums bleed more easily while they’re pregnant. This is because during pregnancy, the hormones in your body cause gums to be more reactive to any bad bacteria in your mouth.
Furthermore, during pregnancy, a woman’s immune system is in a weakened state. This may cause your mouth to be more vulnerable to bad bacteria that cause dental disease. As such, bleeding gums can be a symptom of underlying gum infection.
Bleeding gums can be especially problematic for women who have an untreated gum condition prior to pregnancy. Since the immune system is less able to fight off bad bacteria, existing mild dental conditions can worsen quickly.
For this reason, we urge pregnant women to stay on top of dentist appointments. It’s important to get the dental treatments you need to make sure your mouth is healthy throughout the pregnancy.
Visit your dentist during pregnancy
It is an outdated misconception that pregnant women are not allowed to have dental treatments. With modern techniques, we see women at all stages of pregnancy for dentist visits.
Certainly, for comfort, it’s easier to sit in a dentist chair earlier in the pregnancy when your baby bump is smaller. Besides this, there’s no issue getting checked at any stage of your pregnancy.
Our advice is to inform your dentist of your pregnancy when booking an appointment. We can discuss a suitable time for required dental procedures and take the necessary precautions to ensure you and your baby are safe during treatment.