What you Need to Know and Do to Keep you Smiling
Congratulations on the new arrival on its way and on being a new mum to be!
Pregnancy can be both an exciting and a terrifying experience, especially for first time mums. There are so many things to be thinking about, planning for and all in between possibly suffering from horrendous morning sickness.
But alas, Dental Care Professionals are here to assist you with one area you can take control of and that’s your oral health!
When pregnant, your mouth and gums can be more susceptible to issues.
During pregnancy, elevated hormone levels can affect your body’s response to plaque (the layer of germs on your teeth). Pregnancy does not automatically damage your teeth.
In the midst of all the things you need to think about, worrying about seeing your dentist may not be very high on the list. But your dental health has a significant impact on your overall health which in turn has a major influence on the health of your baby, so it’s important that you maintain a good dental health routine throughout your pregnancy, and beyond.
Just like the rest of your body, your teeth, gums and mouth are affected by hormonal changes during pregnancy. You will usually notice changes in the health of your gums even during the first trimester.
Your gums are highly sensitive and bleed easily
Though it is often temporary, as are many other oral health issues during pregnancy, it can seriously weaken the tissues that hold your teeth in place and you shouldn’t ignore it.
It usually only affects you if you’ve previously had some gum inflammation and generally if you’ve kept up a regular routine of brushing, flossing and dental visits before pregnancy, it shouldn’t affect you.
Make seeing your dentist and hygienist a priority
Getting a regular check-up during pregnancy is safe and essential for optimal oral health. Not only can you take care of cleanings and procedures like getting fillings before your baby is born, but your dentist can help you with any pregnancy-related dental symptoms you might be experiencing.
Your dentist is well aware of which medications you can safely take while pregnant, and which procedures can be safely done at various stages of pregnancy. You need to make seeing your dentist and hygienist in the lead-up to, during and after your pregnancy a priority.
Morning sickness can affect your teeth
Pregnancy hormones soften the ring of muscle that keeps food inside the stomach. Gastric reflux (regurgitating food or drink) or the vomiting associated with morning sickness can coat your teeth with strong stomach acids. Repeated reflux and vomiting can damage tooth enamel and increase the risk of decay.
Don’t brush your teeth directly after vomiting
Tempting though it is to brush your teeth straight after a bout of morning sickness, it’s best to wait an hour or so as brushing too soon can strip away the enamel, which is the softened protective coating of your teeth, leaving them more vulnerable to decay and sensitivity. While you’re waiting, try rinsing your mouth with water to remove the acids, chew sugar-free gum or try eating an acid-neutralising food such as milk or hard cheese.
Watch your food cravings don’t affect your teeth
Unusual food cravings are a fact of life for many women during pregnancy. If your cravings take a turn towards things sweet, try to limit the sugary snacks and instead, choose healthier options such as fresh fruit.
Brushing and flossing are essential
Maintaining your usual oral health routine is even more important when you’re pregnant since hormonal changes mean that you have an increased susceptibility to gum inflammations and infections.
Dental disease can affect a developing baby
Research has found a link between gum disease in pregnant women and premature birth with low birth weight. Babies who are born prematurely may risk a range of health conditions including cerebral palsy and problems with eyesight and hearing. Estimates suggest that up to 18 out of every 100 premature births may be triggered by periodontal disease, which is a chronic infection of the gums. Appropriate dental treatment for the expectant mother may reduce the risk of premature birth.
Increase your calcium during pregnancy
You need to increase your daily amount of calcium during pregnancy. Sufficient calcium will protect your bone mass and meet the nutritional needs of your developing baby.
Useful sources of dietary calcium include products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt.
Vitamin D helps the body to utilise calcium. Good sources include: cheese, fatty fish, such as salmon and eggs.
It’s important to remember to tell your dentist that you are pregnant and they can then plan your oral health program accordingly. The team at Dental Care Professionals look forward to taking care of you and your family and support your oral health journey along the way.
Australia Dental Association
Better Health Victoria