You might have heard the old wives’ tale that you should expect to lose a tooth for every child. While this may have been true before modern dentistry, it’s no longer the case for women who take good care of their oral health.
However, pregnancy can increase the risk of certain dental problems developing. Being aware of how hormonal changes can affect your teeth and gums can help you to lower your risks.
Periodontal disease (gum disease) is caused by the same bacteria as tooth decay. If plaque on your teeth reaches the gum line, the gums can become infected and sensitive. Pregnancy affects the way your body reacts to plaque, which can make gum disease more likely to develop.
The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. Symptoms can include red, itchy, swollen or bleeding gums, but there are not always obvious symptoms. Gingivitis can usually be treated by improving your oral hygiene routine and visiting your dentist for cleaning, scaling and fluoride treatments.
If gingivitis isn’t treated, it can develop into periodontitis. This is a more serious condition that can cause damage to the gums, jaw and even tooth loss, and requires more intensive treatment from your dentist.
There may be a link between gum disease during pregnancy and a higher risk of babies being born prematurely with low birth weight. Maintaining good oral care and visiting your dentist regularly can help lower your gum disease risk.
Pregnancy hormones also cause morning sickness and vomiting for many women. Frequent vomiting can weaken or damage teeth as their surface is exposed to acid, increasing the risk of tooth decay, cavities and gum disease.
While vomiting can’t be avoided, you can protect your teeth from its effects by rinsing your mouth with plain water soon afterwards.
It’s important not to brush your teeth soon after vomiting (or after eating or drinking), as the enamel may still be weak and could be damaged by the brushing action. You should wait for 30 minutes to an hour before brushing your teeth, using fluoride toothpaste to help protect the enamel.
Many women crave food or drink with a high sugar content during pregnancy. Consuming too much sugar increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease, as this feeds bacteria in your mouth. This includes soft drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices, which contribute the most sugar in the average diet.
If you feel cravings, try to choose low-sugar or sugar-free options, or talk to your dentist about tooth-friendly food and drink that can actually help to support your oral health. This includes dairy and soy products that are high in dietary calcium and food and drink rich in vitamin D, such as cheese, eggs and fatty fish.
Avoiding snacking between meals and rinsing your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash can help to reduce the effects of sugar on your teeth.
Talk to a dentist in Erskineville
If you want to see a dentist for advice or a check-up, get in touch with our friendly team at Sydney Park Dental.
Call us today on (02) 8084 7170 to make an appointment online.
Better Health Channel. Pregnancy and teeth [Online] 2006 [Updated February 2018, accessed September 2018] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-teeth