It is important to maintain good oral hygiene and establish a good daily routine of care. This means brushing twice a day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day. It is also important to visit your dentist regularly. If dental treatment is required you may prefer to have this done prior to your pregnancy. Inform your dentist if you suspect you are pregnant as it could affect the type of care necessary for you e.g. your dentist may postpone xrays or elective procedures until after the birth.
The hormone changes that occur during pregnancy may cause some changes to oral health however this can be managed effectively.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to an increase in plaque on your teeth. If plaque isn’t removed it can cause gingivitis which is often seen as bleeding gums. If this is not treated, plaque and calculus (hardened plaque) continues to accumulate. Gingivitis then develops into periodontitis (also known as gum disease) and this causes loss of bone and gum around your teeth eventually leading to teeth becoming loose. It is important to treat gum disease as it has been linked to premature birth and low birth-weight in babies.
Some pregnant women suffer from ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ where hormonal changes cause bleeding of the gums despite good oral hygiene measures. Gums usually revert to normal after the baby is born.
During pregnancy morning sickness and vomiting can cause frequent exposure of teeth to stomach acid. Stomach acid can dissolve tooth enamel and cause tooth sensitivity. To avoid further damage to teeth avoid brushing your teeth directly after vomiting. Rinse with water or a fluoride mouthrinse or smear fluoride toothpaste on your teeth instead.
This can occur during brushing and deter people from brushing regularly. Concentrating on breathing whilst you brush or brushing without toothpaste can help, after which a fluoride mouthrinse can be used.
Having cravings during pregnancy is common, however if you are snacking on food with a high carbohydrate content or those with refined sugars it increases your risk of dental decay. Try to snack on food that is low in sugar, fat and salt but high in fibre. Drink a lot of water and milk.
Babies begin to develop their teeth and bones in the fourth month of pregnancy. The calcium and phosphorous required for this comes from what the mother eats and if needed, from their bones. It does not come from the mother’s teeth. These minerals can be obtained by consuming dairy products or calcium supplements.
It is also important to keep visiting your dentist regularly to monitor your oral health and also clean your teeth of any plaque and calculus build up.