All pregnant women know it is very important to keep regular doctor visits to make sure their baby is healthy and developing well. But seeing a medical doctor isn’t enough; it’s important to visit the dentist for an examination early in your pregnancy, and to keep your regular scale and polish visits throughout. Here’s our guide to pregnancy and oral health.
Pregnancy and Tooth Decay
While pregnancy itself doesn’t cause tooth decay, your hormonal changes affect the body’s ability to fight plaque. Plaque is the filmy substance that coats teeth throughout the day; it contains bacteria that attacks tooth enamel and causes cavities. It’s especially important to brush and floss regularly when you are pregnant.
Pregnancy and Gingivitis
Pregnancy hormones affect your gums, too, causing them to have an exaggerated reaction to plaque build-up on the teeth. The gums become red and swollen; they may even bleed during the day. Studies show that most women will experience some form of gingivitis during their pregnancy.
There is real risk to your developing baby if gum disease goes untreated and progresses. Mothers with chronic gum disease had babies with lower birth rates than mothers with healthy gums, and they had more episodes of premature delivery. Read more about gum disease here.
A recent study suggested that 18 out of every 100 premature and low birth weight babies could be traced to mothers with periodontal disease. Preventing gum disease, and seeking prompt treatment if you develop it, will lower your risk of having a premature baby by 80 percent.
Dental Health and Morning Sickness
Many women have some degree of morning sickness. In some cases it can last well into pregnancy. Frequent vomiting is harmful to teeth because the acids in the stomach erode and damage tooth enamel. If you experience morning sickness, be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly after you are ill, rather than brushing – as this accelerates the erosion.
Some women find that toothbrushing itself makes them vomit, or the flavour of their toothpaste makes them ill. If your toothpaste is making you sick, ask your dentist or hygienist to recommend a more bland-tasting product. During pregnancy, regular brushing and flossing is more important than ever.
Pregnancy Cravings and Teeth
Women experience unusual cravings during pregnancy, and many turn to sugary snacks and beverages, while others want salty acidic foods. The cliché of pregnant women craving pickles and ice cream is pretty accurate. Unfortunately, these foods are the ones that are most harmful to dental health. Acidic foods erode enamel, and sugary foods breed harmful bacteria and plaque. Chew a xylitol , sugar free gum after snacking if you can’t tolerate brushing your teeth, it helps prevent cavities.
For Healthy Teeth During Pregnancy
When you book a dental visit, be sure to tell your doctor or hygienist that you are pregnant. You should not have routine x-rays taken. Brush and floss twice a day, and chew gum after snacks and meals if brushing is not possible. If your gums become inflamed and bleed, or are unusually painful, see your dentist right away to prevent possible complications to your pregnancy.
Heard the old wives’ tale that women lose a tooth with each pregnancy? Well it’s not true. However – you should be vigilant about your oral hygiene to keep your teeth, and your baby, healthy. Have tips or questions about oral health when you’re pregnant? Comment below or email us at email@example.com.
GDC number: 81217
Toothpick CEO and co-founder
Prior to launching Toothpick, Sandeep took just 3 years after qualifying to build a successful private Dental Clinic in Central London. He later sold this, in order to embrace and develop the technology necessary to create Toothpick. Sandeep’s mission is to simplify the appointment booking process by bringing together dentists and patients via a live transparent online platform. Sandeep was a former young dentist representative for the British Dental Association and holds a number of Dental qualifications, including a UK Dental Licence, a Bachelor of Dental Surgery from the University of Liverpool and a range of postgraduate achievements. He explained Toothpick to Business of Dentistry in 2013.