It’s no doubt that the female body is a crazy and incredible thing, especially during pregnancy!
Obviously, hormonal changes during pregnancy affect your body, but something you don’t hear about quite as often is the impact of these increased hormones on your teeth, gums and mouth. This is due to their effect on the body’s response to plaque, the film that contains bacteria which form on the surfaces inside the mouth.
Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine at home and visiting the dentist while pregnant are important steps to ensure both yourself and your unborn baby are as healthy as possible throughout your pregnancy!
Here are a few unexpected ways pregnancy affects your teeth, and how to manage them.
- Gum problems
- Food cravings and cavities
- Morning sickness and dental erosion
- Calcium and Vitamin D requirements
- Dry mouth and tooth decay
- Precautions during dental care
1. Gum problems
Women will normally see a change in gum health roughly two months into their pregnancy, noticing that they may bleed easily when brushing or flossing. This is an indicator of “pregnancy gingivitis”, a (usually) temporary gum issue that develops when pregnant. Other symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis include red or swollen gums and bad breath.
This often doesn’t occur for women who have maintained good oral health by brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and visiting their dentist for a regular check-up and clean prior to pregnancy. It’s normally more common for people who have had previous gum inflammation and should be treated by your dentist as it causes weakening of the tissues that hold your teeth in position. If it becomes severe, gum disease can increase the risk of premature birth or low-birth weight or lead to periodontal disease, a chronic gum infection.
Another possible effect of pregnancy is developing “pregnancy tumours”, known as pyogenic granulomas. These are nothing to worry about – they’re just red bumps that pop up along the gum line and in between the teeth, but normally subside after birth.
You should also get your gums checked by your Gold Coast dentist after birth to find out if the gum problems have resolved themselves or require further treatment.
2. Food cravings and cavities
There’s no doubt you’ve probably heard countless stories from your mum or other women in your life listing the odd food cravings they experienced whilst pregnant, whether it was the burning desire to pair pickles with absolutely everything or an addiction to another food they would normally never touch. If your pregnancy cravings kick in and direct you towards sweet treats, it’s best to make healthy choices such as fresh fruits with Greek yoghurt, rather than giving in to the temptation of lollies, cakes or ice cream in order to prevent erosion of your tooth enamel.
3. Morning sickness and dental erosion
An unfortunate reality of pregnancy for many women is the morning sickness or acid reflux that comes with it. Your natural response is to brush your teeth straight away to get rid of the unpleasant taste, but it’s important not to. Why? Because the acid in vomit and reflux causes tooth erosion, which is made worse by brushing your teeth within an hour of being sick due to your enamel being softened.
Some much better alternatives are:
- Rinsing your mouth with a solution of ¼ teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 1 cup of warm water, or a fluoride mouthwash
- Chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva and freshen the breath
- Eating foods that neutralise acids, e.g. milk or hard cheese
4. Calcium and Vitamin D requirements
Often during pregnancy, many soon-to-be mothers find they need to increase their daily calcium intake to support the growth of their baby while maintaining the strength of their own bones and teeth.
Be sure to include plenty of calcium-rich foods to maintain optimal oral health, including:
- Dairy milk or calcium-enriched plant milk, e.g. soy milk or almond milk
- Greek/plain yoghurt
Vitamin D is produced by your body when exposed to sunlight, and due to a large number of the population spending more time indoors and wearing sunscreen outside, Vitamin D deficiencies are not uncommon. Making sure your body receives an adequate level of Vitamin D will assist in the absorption of calcium.
Some foods high in Vitamin D to help boost your intake include:
- Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon, or sardines
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
- Egg yolks
5. Dry mouth and tooth decay
Another common symptom of pregnancy is dry mouth caused by xerostomia, which is a reduction in the amount of saliva produced. This can be problematic as saliva is important for controlling the bacteria in your mouth which causes tooth decay or cavities. Dry mouth can be combatted by increasing your water intake and staying hydrated, chewing on sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva, using a humidifier in your bedroom while sleeping, and getting advice at your dental appointments for using a special dry-mouth mouthwash.
6. Precautions during dental care
Letting your dentist know if you’re pregnant is important so they can take this into consideration when making decisions related to your dental care. This may include postponing unnecessary X-rays until after the birth of your child, or taking certain precautions to protect your baby if your dental X-ray can’t be avoided. Other considerations made by your dentist relate to anaesthesia and the medications prescribed when visiting your Gold Coast dental practice.
Gold Coast Dentist for Pregnancy
For expert advice and care during pregnancy, Oasis Dental Studio is the best dentist on the Gold Coast for your needs! Our team also specialise in children’s dentistry and creating a relaxing environment for your family. Contact us today to find out more or to book an appointment at your closest Gold Coast dental practice: