Maintaining Good Health During Pregnancy
Your body needs all kinds of special care during pregnancy. This ranges from different nutritional needs to better oral health. The latter needs a particular amount of attention both before, during and after your pregnancy. A lot of women are unaware of the extent pregnancy increases your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
The physical changes the body experiences during pregnancy affects your body’s response to plaque and increases exposure to damaging acids. With up to 70 per cent of pregnant women affected by gingivitis, it’s important to maintain a good diet. Let your dentist know you are pregnant and take extra care with your oral hygiene.
Gum Problems and Pregnancy
Increased hormones can make women more susceptible to gum problems during pregnancy. Higher levels of oestrogen and progesterone exaggerate the inflammatory response of your gums to plaque, causing more gum bleeding. If you already have gingivitis, the condition will often worsen once you are pregnant.
Untreated gingivitis can turn into a more serious gum disease, which could result in tooth loss. If gum disease becomes very severe, it can affect an unborn baby’s development. Serious cases can increase the risk of premature birth or a low weight baby, which can have long-term health consequences for the child.
Some women may even experience pregnancy tumours (named pregnancy epulis), which are noncancerous, inflammatory growths that develop when swollen gums are irritated. These are relatively uncommon and will usually shrink after the baby’s birth. Your dentist might remove them if they’re causing you discomfort or interfering with eating and brushing.
Preventing Problems with Better Oral Health
Switch to a softer toothbrush and brush gently and thoroughly at least twice a day to reduce these risks. Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride and drink tap water to help strengthen your teeth.
Visit your dentist prior to becoming pregnant, if you can, or else wait until your second trimester. This will ensure you are comfortable whilst having treatment.
It is important that you and your partner have healthy teeth and gums prior to your baby’s birth, since the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease can be transferred from parent to child by sharing utensils or even by breathing on the baby.
Nutrition and Pregnancy
Pregnant women can often experience cravings for sugary foods. Sugar is used by the bacteria in your mouth to create damaging acids that erode your teeth. Try to maintain a healthy diet and snack wisely to combat the heightened risk sugar presents to your oral health during pregnancy. If you can’t keep away from sweet snacks, try healthier options like fruit instead. Always rinse your mouth with water or wait thirty minutes then brush your teeth after having sugary foods.
As well as avoiding sugar, your body needs an increased daily intake of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy.
Consult a nutritionist for more advice about how to maintain an ideal diet during pregnancy.
Vomiting from morning sickness can also damage your teeth. Strong stomach acids that coat your teeth can damage tooth enamel, increasing the risk of decay. Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting. Rinse your mouth out with tap water instead, and consider chewing gum to increase salivary flow to wash away the acid. You can brush your teeth thirty minutes after vomiting.
For more information about maintaining good oral health during your pregnancy, consult our expert team of dentists or book an appointment at McMahons Point Health. We provide top quality health services, including nutrition and other general, family, cosmetic dentistry to Crows Nest, St Leonards, McMahons Point and surrounding North Sydney suburbs.