Pregnancy is a time when most women become more vigilant about staying healthy. While the importance of eating healthily and exercising safely are promoted extensively, taking extra special care of your teeth is an issue that is sometimes overlooked. The changes that occur during pregnancy can have a surprising effect on your oral health, so here’s our guide to keeping your mouth healthy during this crucial time.
Let your dentist know the good news – not only will they want to monitor your dental health and give you the necessary advice but check-ups or certain treatments may need to be scheduled during particular phases of your pregnancy. Though there is a very low associated risk, dentists may also avoid taking x-rays or replacing amalgam fillings whilst you are pregnant, so always keep them informed.
Practice a very thorough dental health routine – brush your teeth well twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly to remove food particles and use a mouthwash to guard against excess plaque and gum disease. Most mouthwash is safe to use during pregnancy but if you’re concerned about some of the stronger versions or those containing alcohol it’s best to consult your dentist.
Be aware of changes – due to hormonal fluctuations and increased blood flow many pregnant women can become prone to sensitive, swollen or bleeding gums. Pregnancy gingivitis, as this is known, may be uncomfortable but should not cause you any concern and can usually be kept in check with a meticulous oral care routine – just remember to brush thoroughly without being too vigorous as this can irritate the gums further (a softer toothbrush may help too). Severe gum disease has been linked to low birth weight and premature delivery so it pays to keep on top of things. If you’re at all worried, get in touch with the dentist for advice.
Guard against acid – if you’re unfortunate enough to suffer with morning sickness it’s a good idea to rinse your mouth out with plain water after each episode as this can protect your teeth from the harmful effects of the stomach acid. As tempting as it may be to freshen up your mouth by brushing your teeth, try to resist doing it straight away – wait at least an hour as the acid also softens the protective tooth enamel and you could cause more damage.
Watch those cravings – pregnancy is a time when women can experience all manner of weird and wonderful cravings! Whilst they might be irresistible, just be mindful of effect the type of foods and drink you’re consuming may have on your teeth. With ordinary foods it may simply be a case of rinsing and brushing to remove traces but if you’re experiencing a condition called ‘pica’ you might have a hankering for chewing more unusual things like ice cubes or chalk. It’s obviously better for your teeth if you can curb these cravings but it might be worth popping in for a check-up if you can’t stop!
Avoid tooth whitening – there isn’t much data to determine whether professional and over-the-counter whitening treatments are safe during pregnancy but the general consensus is that it is best avoided as there are some pretty strong chemicals involved in the process, including peroxide.
Eat well – ignore the old wives’ tale that “you lose a tooth for very child”. In days gone by, malnutrition during pregnancy may have resulted in tooth loss but it very rarely happens now! Eating nutrient rich foods, particularly dairy products, not only benefits your oral health but is vital for the development of your baby’s teeth which begin to form at around the 6 to 8 weeks stage of pregnancy.
Taking good care of your teeth is essential throughout your life but during this special time, it’s particularly important to look after yourself and take sensible measures to protect your baby. We’re here to help, so if you have any questions or concerns about dental treatment during pregnancy, please get in touch with us 01239 820083.