Oral Health and Pregnancy
Pregnancy puts many demands on your body, including your teeth and gums.
Following good oral hygiene before and during your pregnancy considerably lowers the health risks for both you and your baby.
How does pregnancy affect your oral health?
Before oral health was properly understood, mothers were taught that they should expect to lose a tooth for every child. While this is no longer the case, failing to look after your teeth and gums during this turbulent time will put you at greater risk of developing problems that can affect you and your child.
Following are the most common ways in which pregnancy makes women more vulnerable to oral health problems.
Vomiting subjects your teeth to gastric acids. This softens their enamel surface and makes them easier to damage.
After vomiting, you should rinse your mouth immediately to remove this acid. If you want to use toothpaste, this should be applied gently using a finger. Avoid using a toothbrush for at least 30 minutes, as the abrasive brushing action can cause damage and make your teeth more susceptible to plaque.
The more sugar you consume in food and drink, the faster plaque will spread across your teeth (causing tooth decay) and your gums (causing gum disease).
If you do give in to sugar cravings, make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. You should also consider rinsing your mouth with a fluoride mouthwash after snacks and drinking fluoridated tap water.
Hormones released by your body during pregnancy affect the blood supply to your gums and the way your gums react to plaque. This makes pregnant women especially prone to periodontal disease (gum disease), and this risk increases further if you smoke or have diabetes.
What are the risks of gum disease?
In its early stage (gingivitis), gum disease can be managed by practising good oral hygiene and having your teeth and gums cleaned by your dentist.
In its more severe state (periodontitis), gum disease damages the gums, teeth and bone tissue, and often leads to tooth loss. This condition requires urgent treatment at the dental clinic.
Research has also linked gum disease in pregnant women with medical conditions such as pre-eclampsia and pregnancy diabetes, as well as causing premature births and low birth weight.
When should you visit the dentist?
Seeing your dentist for regular oral examinations and teeth cleaning is recommended at all stages of life, but it can be even more important during pregnancy when your oral health is at greater risk.
Ideally, you should arrange a dental check-up before you become pregnant, as this gives your dentist the chance to carry out any treatments needed.
If you are already pregnant, dental treatments should only be carried out between the fourth and six months of pregnancy. This is because dental x-rays, anaesthesia and certain medications are not recommended during the first trimester, while sitting in the dentist’s chair can be uncomfortable in the third.
Make sure your dentist knows that you’re pregnant before they begin any examination or treatment.
Speak to our dentists in Brunswick and Kew
If you need to arrange an oral examination or you want to talk to a dentist about any oral health issue, contact All Day EveryDay Dental on (03) 9853 1811.
You can also make a booking online.