Oral health in pregnancy

Most women consider their health a high priority during pregnancy, taking extra precautions in terms of diet and exercise, skincare, toxins in the environment as well as their mental health but few women give significant thought to their oral health.

A mistake according to Australian Dental Association Dentist, Dr Chris Ho.

Morning sickness exposes your teeth to strong stomach acids and increases the acidity levels in your mouth, which can in turn cause gradual erosion of the tooth enamel, says Dr Ho.

I find that women are aware of morning sickness as a symptom of pregnancy, but many of them don’t consider the effects it can have on their teeth and gums.

If you’re having frequent episodes of morning sickness then your teeth will be repeatedly exposed to strong stomach acids, which can have long-term repercussions for your oral health.

Making the problem worse is our instinctual reaction to reach for the toothbrush following a bout of sickness.

In fact, this can actually be more damaging for your tooth enamel which will have been softened by the acid attack.

Given the increased acidity levels in your mouth after an episode of morning sickness, you should resist the urge to brush your teeth straight away, says Dr Ho.

Instead, it’s best to rinse your mouth with water first of all which gives your saliva time to neutralise the acid effects and then brush your teeth around 60 minutes later, or another alternative is to use an Oral-B mouthwash which is alcohol free and safe to use during pregnancy.

I see a major improvement in my patients’ oral health when they switch to power toothbrushes, so I often advise my pregnant patients to invest in this technology if they haven’t already.

If you are experiencing severe morning sickness, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment to see your dentist so they can provide further information and advice on how best to look after your teeth during this time.

If you go to the dentist during your first trimester, let them know you’re pregnant so that they are able to provide advice during your pregnancy and when your baby is born.

Ideally, any major dental work should be performed during the second trimester, and while x-rays should be avoided, pregnant women can wear a protective lead apron to protect the baby from any harmful rays if they are concerned.

Another common complaint for expectant mothers is bleeding or swollen gums caused by increased levels of the hormone progesterone in the body.

This hormone makes pregnant women more susceptible to plaque build-up, which in turn causes red, puffy and sometimes bleeding gums, says Dr Ho.

Many women mistake these symptoms with brushing too much or too hard, when in fact they should concentrate on cleaning their teeth better to ensure plaque is removed.

You should also make sure that you include plenty of calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, spinach, broccoli, seafood and legumes in your diet.

A baby’s teeth begin to develop between months three and six of your pregnancy, so it’s especially important to keep on top of your calcium intake during this time.

As a result, your bones and teeth – and your baby’s bones and teeth – should be strong and healthy.

X click to search