Expectant mothers often experience dental problems, including gum disease and a higher risk of tooth decay. This is because, during pregnancy, increased hormones affect the body’s response to plaque and increases exposure to damaging acids.
Up to 70 per cent of pregnant women are affected by gingivitis, highlighting the importance of good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist when you are pregnant.
Causes of Dental Health Problems
Dental health problems during pregnancy are generally caused by:
- Gum problems
- Poor nutrition/sugar cravings
- Retching while brushing
Pregnant women are more susceptible to gum problems because of increased hormones and appetite. Higher levels of oestrogen and progesterone escalate the way gum tissue responds to plaque, resulting in problems such as:
- Gingivitis – common during the second trimester. Plaque turns into gingivitis much quicker, resulting in bleeding and swollen gums, particularly when brushing and flossing
- Gum disease – untreated gingivitis can lead to gum disease, a condition that will worsen during pregnancy. This can lead to tooth loss and potential health issues for the unborn child.
- Pregnancy tumours – a localised, non-cancerous, inflammatory growth that can develop when swollen gums are irritated. They occasionally require removal or professional cleaning if they cause major discomfort, but more often shrink on their own.
Nutrition and Pregnancy
It’s common to have cravings for sugary foods while pregnant. But sugar poses a heightened threat to your oral health during pregnancy. Sugar can react with increased levels of plaque to create damaging acids that erode your teeth. Try to maintain a healthy diet and snack wisely during pregnancy. Opt for healthier options like fruit when you do have cravings.
You should also increase your intake of calcium, which will help protect your oral health as well as providing important nutrition to your developing baby. Good sources include dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt or alternatives like calcium-fortified soymilk.
Increasing your vitamin D intake will help your body use the calcium you consume more effectively. Good sources include eggs, cheese, margarine and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
Pregnancy hormones soften the ring of muscle in your stomach that keeps food inside. This makes pregnant women more prone to vomiting, especially when experiencing morning sickness or when brushing teeth.
Strong stomach acids coat your teeth when you vomit, damaging enamel and increasing the risk of decay. To avoid causing damage, rinse your mouth out with water followed by fluoridated mouthwash after vomiting. Avoid brushing, as the vigorous action combined with traces of acid can scratch tooth enamel.
Tell Your Dentist You Are Pregnant
It’s important to visit your dentist regularly during pregnancy and ensure they know you are pregnant as soon as possible. Your dentist might change your dental care plan based on your pregnancy, such as avoiding x-rays. They can also offer valuable and tailored advice.
For friendly, high-quality dental services in Cannon Hill and Morningside, visit My Dentist at Cannon Hill. Book an appointment online or call us on 07 3902 1023.