Did you know that pregnancy and oral health are closely related? Your pregnancy journey can be a daunting one, but it is important to keep your oral health in check during your pregnancy. Dental experts recommend visiting your dentist for a check-up if you are planning to become pregnant or as soon as you find out that you are. Your dentist can then assess your oral health situation and decide how often you need to be seen during your pregnancy. It is important for you to not neglect your teeth and gums during pregnancy.
Your first trimester is usually limited to emergency dental treatment only as the foetus is starting to develop and during your second trimester, non-emergency procedures, are performed. Make sure you let your dentist know that you are pregnant before they proceed with treatments, perform x-rays or prescribe medication. Avoid any treatment later in your third trimester.
It is very important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet during your pregnancy. Your baby’s teeth begin to develop during your second trimester. Make sure you get plenty of nutrients (i.e. – calcium, protein and vitamins A, C and D) from good food and other prenatal vitamins that your physician may recommend.
Dealing with crazy cravings can be a hassle too! Consuming an exorbitant amount of sugar affects your overall health – whether you are pregnant or not. It can have a huge impact on your physical health and when pregnant, you can be at risk of developing ‘Gestational Diabetes’. This develops during pregnancy and usually goes away once your baby is born. If you are diagnosed with this, limit your intake of starchy and sweet foods to help keep your blood sugar levels under control.
During pregnancy, your elevated hormones can make your gums swell, making it easier for food to get stuck in awkward areas. At this stage, gums are more susceptible to the presence of plaque biofilm causing an inflammation called pregnancy gingivitis. This usually happens around the second or third trimester of pregnancy and is most common to appear at the front of your mouth. You can control this by brushing away the plaque biofilm carefully with a soft-bristled toothbrush. You can use a plaque disclosing agent (dye) to show where the plaque is not being removed properly. Visit your dentist or hygienist for a cleaning to remove any other irritants around your teeth. Your gums should return to normal after your baby is born. The swelling and tendency to bleed is reduced, however, if this does not happen, you should return to your dental professional for further advice and treatment if necessary.
Don’t let the name alarm you! Pregnancy tumors are benign and usually tend to appear during the second trimester of your pregnancy. They look like small red bubbles between your teeth and your dentist can remove them if they are painful or irritable, however, they do tend to vanish after your child is born. Poor oral hygiene is most likely a contributory factor to their development.
Concerns for your oral health are very normal as morning sickness is very common in many women during pregnancy. The acid in your tummy can be so strong, it contributes to tooth erosion. If you also suffer from heartburn or acid reflux during pregnancy, the acid may also erode your teeth. It is important not to brush your teeth straight after vomiting, instead rinse your mouth out with water to reduce acidity and wait at least thirty minutes before brushing and use a toothpaste with at least 1450 parts per million of fluoride.
Dry Mouth during pregnancy can put you at risk of oral health problems such as infections and tooth decay. It is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
One big question dental experts are asked is whether or not calcium from your teeth will be lost during pregnancy – this is a MYTH! If you are not taking in enough calcium during pregnancy, your body will start to use the calcium stored in your bones, not from your teeth, to help your baby grow.
Healthy Habits to remember
- Visit your dentist for a check-up if you are planning on becoming pregnant or as soon as you find out.
- See your dentist at the first sign of trouble (i.e. – swollen gums, bleeding etc…)
- Make your dentist aware of any medical history changes or about any medication you may be on.
- Use a good fluoride toothpaste, with at least 1450 parts per million of fluoride.
- Eat a good, healthy, balanced diet and try to stay away from sugary treats and drinks.
- Brush twice daily and try to floss once a day.
- If your gums are bleeding more than usual, use a plaque disclosing agent (dye) to see where you are not removing plaque biofilm properly.
- Do not smoke or use any tobacco products.