There are so many things to get your head around when you’re pregnant and preparing for the arrival of your little one. So at first you might not think about how pregnancy can affect your teeth and things like gingivitis, bleeding gums and sensitive teeth.
Your oral health can be linked to your baby’s health, and knowing how to take care of your teeth during pregnancy can prevent common conditions that women experience.*,**
Here’s what you need to know about pregnancy and your teeth.
Take extra care for teeth during pregnancy
Your body goes through some pretty incredible changes throughout pregnancy. Many of them are triggered by a rise in hormones and they’re all working away behind the scenes to help your baby develop healthily. ***
The rise in hormones in your body also has an effect on your teeth and gums. For instance, you might experience sensitive teeth, or swollen and inflamed gums. This can sometimes lead to what’s called pregnancy gingivitis. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to pre-term birth and low birth weight. ****
Most common teeth conditions and gum diseases during pregnancy
- Gum disease
As we’ve mentioned, one of the conditions you can be more susceptible to during pregnancy is gum disease. The first stage of gum disease is also known as gingivitis. Some key signs to look out for during pregnancy are bleeding gums when you're cleaning between your teeth and brushing, red or swollen gums, and persistent bad breath.
Try this: Make sure you’re brushing twice a day, and cleaning between your teeth daily. If you’re concerned about your gum health, schedule a check-up with your dentist.
- Enamel erosion
The rise in hormones often causes morning sickness and this can lead to enamel erosion. Repeated vomiting leaves your teeth coated in strong stomach acid, increasing your risk of tooth decay. *****
Try this: Resist the urge to brush your teeth right away to avoid damaging your tooth enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth with tap water and follow it up with mouth wash. Wait at least an hour before you brush your teeth.
Is it safe to go to the dentist while pregnant?
Many women wonder how a visit to the dentist will affect their baby. Rest assured that it’s safe to visit the dentist during pregnancy. Cleanings or routine exams are recommended and any unnecessary treatment can be delayed until after you give birth.
In the case of preventative treatment, modifications can be taken to keep your baby safe. For instance, dental X-rays are considered safe during pregnancy with the appropriate shielding, according to the American Dental Association. *****
Some medications aren’t safe to take during pregnancy, which is why it’s important to tell your dentist that you’re pregnant right away. Your dentist will give you guidance on the best possible care for you and your baby.
Planning visits to the dentist
Still in the planning stages of your pregnancy? Now is the perfect time to schedule a visit with your dentist.
Like this you can plan in any urgent treatments before you fall pregnant, and your dentist can give you expert guidance on how to look after your teeth during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, the second trimester tends to be the ideal trimester for oral health treatments. *****
More generally speaking, it’s important to keep up regular, twice-yearly visits to the dentist, or more frequently if you’ve been advised by your dentist.
How to take great care of your teeth
1. Brush twice every day
Brushing for two minutes, twice a day, is the ideal way to combat plaque and prevent pregnancy gingivitis. For a more thorough clean, consider using an electric toothbrush. It’s more effective at removing bacteria than a manual toothbrush.
2. Floss every day
There are some spots your brush can’t reach, so be sure to floss in between your teeth every day to remove the particles of food that bacteria feeds on.
3. Eat a well-balanced diet
We know the pregnancy cravings are really something. Unfortunately, you’ll still want to steer clear of sugary foods to prevent tooth decay.
4. Tell your dentist that you’re pregnant right away
It’s important to alert your dentist that you’re pregnant in case any treatments need to be modified.
5. Book in regular visits to the dentist
It’s best to visit your dentist for a routine check-up twice a year.
Got more questions or worried about your teeth during pregnancy? Schedule a check-up with your dentist to find out the best way to look after your baby and your teeth.