1) Overview – Pregnancy and Oral Health
Many people are aware of the effect that hormones have on the body of a pregnant woman, but one overlooked part of the body that is impacted during pregnancy is oral health. Changing hormone levels can cause your gums to swell and bleed more easily, which increases your risk of gingivitis and tooth decay.
2) How to Ensure a Healthy Mouth During Pregnancy
If you are planning to get pregnant, try to visit your dentist for a check-up and professional cleaning before you become pregnant. You should also try and take care of any major elective dental procedures before becoming pregnant as you will be unable to have them done once you are.
Maintain a good oral hygiene routine but take extra care to be gentle with your gums to prevent bleeding and infection. Use a super soft-bristled toothbrush; a baby toothbrush can be effective as the small head can also access hard to reach places and fluoride toothpaste.
If flossing is painful or causes bleeding, try swapping to an interdental cleaner or invest in a Waterpik to remove build-up from between teeth.
Use a mouthwash or medicated rinse once per day to eliminate harmful bacteria and help to restore a neutral oral pH level.
A balanced and nutrient-dense diet, low in sugar is also a great way to not only support your growing foetus but also to promote good oral health during pregnancy. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and dairy products.
While fish is an important source of nutrients that are beneficial for oral health, health professionals suggest limiting your intake of fish while pregnant to reduce the foetus’ potential exposure to heavy metals.
3) Is It Safe to Whiten Your Teeth During Pregnancy?
While you may want a whiter, brighter smile for your pregnancy photo shoot, it may not be the right time to undergo teeth whitening treatment. Though teeth whitening is a safe and effective procedure, there is not enough research in the effects of teeth whitening bleaching agents on a developing foetus, so health professionals agree that it is not worth taking the risk.
If you want to lighten your smile, talk to your dentist about other teeth whitening methods and natural remedies that you can try at home.
4) Oral Health Concerns During Pregnancy
Pregnancy hormones can cause several changes to the condition of your oral health which may cause concern. Some of these conditions include:
- Swollen and bleeding gums
- Acidic saliva due to morning sickness
- Increased consumption of sugar due to cravings leading to tooth decay
- Poor oral hygiene due to fatigue
- Small tumours inside the mouth
Most of these conditions can be treated easily by your dentist or resolve themselves after delivery. If you experience any of these conditions during your pregnancy, talk with your dentist about what treatment options are available to you. They will typically recommend that you avoid any unnecessary procedures and keep essential procedures for the second trimester when foetal sensitivity is reduced.
5) Common Conditions to Lookout During Pregnancy
- Pregnancy Gingivitis
Pregnancy causes an increase in your blood volume can cause your gums to swell, this can lead to bleeding. Your progesterone levels are ten times higher during pregnancy and can encourage the growth of certain harmful bacteria found in the mouth which can lead to infection resulting in what is termed pregnancy gingivitis.
These same hormones can also exacerbate an already existing problem which is why Dentists recommend professional cleanings before becoming pregnant.
Pregnancy gingivitis typically peaks around the end of the second trimester, but it can begin as early as the second month.
It is important to treat gum issues after delivery. If gingivitis is not treated it can progress to severe periodontal disease that may result in tooth and bone loss. Periodontal disease has also been linked with reduced birth weight and foetal health outcomes.
- Enamel Erosion
Morning sickness is an unfortunate side effect of pregnancy, and for women who suffer from morning sickness, they also may be at a higher risk of enamel erosion. Frequent vomiting exposes the teeth to excessive stomach acid which is a highly corrosive substance. This can erode the enamel on the back of your teeth.
- Dry Mouth
Some pregnant women complain of dry mouth, which can lead to increased bacterial growth and gum recession contributing to gum disease. To help prevent dry mouth, pregnant women can chew gum sugar free gum or suck on hard sugar-free candies containing xylitol which encourages saliva production.
- Pregnancy Tumours
One rare condition that can occur during pregnancy is small tumours on the inside of your mouth known as a granuloma. Granulomas occur in approximately 2-10% of pregnant women and are not malignant.
Granulomas are small red nodules that typically appear on the upper gum line. They are not harmful but can bleed easily and may become ulcerous if care is not taken. They usually disappear after delivery, but if they affect your eating or speaking, they can be removed before you give birth.
- Morning Sickness and Your Teeth
Nausea and vomiting go hand-in-hand with pregnancy and can wreak havoc on your teeth if not dealt with. You may be tempted to brush immediately after vomiting; however, the stomach acid weakens your enamel which is prone to wear from brushing. Before brushing your teeth, rinse your mouth with a mixture of baking soda and water to neutralise your oral pH, or use an over the counter mouthrinse.
6) Visit Your Dentist
Your dentist can help to protect both your oral health and the health of your baby during pregnancy. Regular visits with your dentist during pregnancy can let your dentist identify minor teeth and gum problems before they become too severe.
If you are currently undergoing dental treatment, and become pregnant, it is important to notify your dentist as soon as possible so they can make changes to medications or post-phone non-essential procedures until after birth.
Located on the Southchurch Road, Parmar Dental is a multi-award winning Southend Orthodontics offering high standard and quality dental treatments that patients always expect. Parmar Dental provides dental care in a very relaxed and tranquil environment, where each visit would be a unique experience for their patients.