Pregnancy is an exciting time for expectant families and along with many other changes in your life you can also expect some changes in terms of your oral health. Good dental health is an important part of your overall wellbeing, particularly during pregnancy. Most mothers are aware of the benefits of eating, drinking and staying well whilst they are pregnant and sometime overlook the significance of keeping a healthy mouth.
A commonly quoted myth is that ‘a mother loses a tooth with every pregnancy’ and some suggest that mothers lose teeth due to loss of calcium during pregnancy. The fact of the matter is that the changes that truly effect the mouth are due to the surge of hormones and how the gums react to plaque during pregnancy.
When pregnant, women are much more likely to experience some form of gingivitis, or gum disease. The gums become red, inflamed and often bleed during brushing or flossing. If left untreated the supporting structures that hold your teeth in place such as ligaments and jaw bone can be effected resulting in periodontitis- a more serious stage of gum disease.
Diet plays a major role in maintaining a healthy mouth during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can result in expecting mothers craving all kinds of different foods they potentially would not usually eat. Frequent snacking, particularly on high sugar foods significantly increases the risk for tooth decay. The bacteria in the mouth form a sticky layer (plaque) over the tooth surface, the bacteria convert all sugar and starch in the mouth into acid that attacks the tooth enamel breaking it down. The longer the sugar remains in the mouth the longer the acid attacks the tooth, thus resulting in tooth decay.
Unfortunately, morning sickness is a part of pregnancy. The acid from regular vomiting coats the teeth causing erosion of the tooth enamel. Expecting mothers can use a fluoride toothpaste to help counteract this, as well as simple strategies such as remembering to rinse the mouth with tap water after the vomiting occurs and waiting at least 30 minutes afterwards before tooth brushing. (The acid weakens the enamel and if scrubbed while it is compromised, it can wear away causing further destruction)
At Home Care
A few simple strategies at home can make the world of difference to your mouth during your pregnancy.
• Brushing and flossing twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste
• Drinking tap water (fluoridated)
• Daily fluoride mouth rinses if suffering frequent morning sickness or pregnancy reflux
• Limiting frequent sugary snacks
• Waiting at least 30 minutes after vomiting before brushing
Pregnancy is different for each person and indeed with each baby. Healthy teeth and gums are an important start for you and your baby. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your oral health during or after your pregnancy, we encourage you to contact the staff at Richardson Dental Surgery on 6862 1261.