Between preparing for your baby's arrival, trips to the doctor, and staying as healthy as possible, seeing your dentist may not be a top priority for you.
But did you know that your dental health can have a significant influence on your baby's health?
Hence you must maintain a good dental health routine throughout your pregnancy.
Pregnancy can affect your dental health
- Fluctuating hormone levels during pregnancy can increase the risk of specific oral health problems.
- Your eating habits may change during pregnancy. You may be eating more carbohydrates than usual, or you might be craving sugary foods. These can affect your dental health.
- Pregnancy leads to exhaustion, and the bed-time routine of brushing and flossing can just as easily get skipped.
- Vomiting and acid reflux from morning sickness may expose your teeth to too much stomach acid. This acid can weaken the enamel (the hard surface) of your teeth.
The above changes can increase your risk for some dental issues during pregnancy, including:
- Gingivitis- This is an inflammation of the gums that can cause swelling, tenderness, and bleeding.
- Loose teeth
- Periodontal disease- If gingivitis is untreated, it can lead to more serious periodontal disease. This causes severe infection in the gums and problems with the bones that support the teeth.
Look after your teeth and gums during pregnancy
To keep your teeth and gums healthy:
- Brush your teeth twice a day.
- Floss once a day- it helps to remove the food particles stuck between your teeth.
- Avoid sugary drinks (such as fizzy drinks or sweet tea) and foods.
- Snack on foods such as fresh fruits, plain yogurt-basically foods that are low in sugar, fat, and salt, and high in fibre.
- Drink water between meals and snacks.
- Avoid sipping drinks with natural and added sugar between meals.
- Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol.
- Eat a wide variety of healthy foods.
- Eat calcium-rich food such as milk and milk products.
Tips to reduce the risk of tooth erosion and damage to your teeth after vomiting/reflux:
- Rinse your mouth with water
- Chew sugarless gum- it produces more saliva to wash away the acid.
- Apply a little bit of toothpaste over your teeth with your finger.
- Brush your teeth after 30 minutes to avoid damage to the enamel.
If you experience retching while brushing teeth, the following suggestions may help:
- Use a toothbrush made for toddlers (a toothbrush with a small head).
- Slow down your brushing action.
- Concentrate on your breathing.
- Listen to music if it helps.
- Switch your toothpaste brand if the taste of your current toothpaste is not compatible.
Dental treatments to avoid during pregnancy
Tell your dentist that you're pregnant. Discuss with your dentist whether treatment should be delayed until after your baby is born.
- American Dental Association. Is it safe to go to the dentist during pregnancy? Teeth and gums in pregnancy [Internet]. Available at: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/pregnancy/concerns. Accessed on Aug 25, 2020.
- March of Dimes. Dental health during pregnancy [Internet]. Available at: https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/dental-health-during-pregnancy.aspx. Accessed on Aug 26, 2020.
- Australian Dental Association. Pregnancy [Internet]. Available at: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Children-0-11/Pregnancy. Accessed on Aug 25, 2020.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Brushing for Two: How Your Oral Health Affects Baby [Internet]. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/Pages/Brushing-for-Two-How-Your-Oral-Health-Effects-Baby.aspx. Accessed on Aug 25, 2020.
- HealthLink BC. Pregnancy and dental health [Internet]. Available at: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/pregnancy-dental-health. Accessed on Aug 25, 2020.
- Healthdirect Australia. Pregnancy, Birth and Baby. Looking after your teeth during pregnancy [Internet]. Available at: https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/looking-after-your-teeth-during-pregnancy. Accessed on Aug 25, 2020
- Teeth and gums in pregnancy [Internet]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/teeth-and-gums-pregnant/. Accessed on Aug 25, 2020.
- Alberta Health Services. Teeth and Mouth Care During Pregnancy [Internet]. Available at: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Alberta/Pages/Teeth-and-Mouth-Care-during-Pregnancy.aspx. Accessed on Aug 25, 2020.
- Dental Health Services Victoria. Advice for pregnant women [Internet]. Available at: https://www.dhsv.org.au/dental-health/general-dental-advice/pregnant-women. Accessed on Aug 25, 2020.
- Better Health Channel. Pregnancy and teeth [Internet]. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/pregnancy-and-teeth. Accessed on Aug 25, 2020.