So, you might’ve read our most recent blog on teaching your children how to care for their teeth, but perhaps you’re just shy of being able to put that advice to use. It’s important to be fully prepared when you’ve got a new addition to your family on the way, and while knowing how to cope with their dental health is a good step, it’s equally important to be taking care of your own dental hygiene during pregnancy.
In fact, you ought to be extra conscious of your oral health during pregnancy, as pregnant women have been shown to experience changes in their oral health. Just a few of the changes you may notice are as follows:
Almost 50 percent of pregnant women will experience this. It’s a condition in which plaque build-up triggers an inflammatory response and causes the gums to swell. Increased levels of progesterone during pregnancy make it harder for the body to fight the bacteria found in plaque. You can help lower your chances of gingivitis by dedicating a little extra time to brushing each day, really focusing on the gumline, and investing in an antimicrobial mouthwash. Contrary to popular belief, you can also visit the dental hygienist during pregnancy, and you absolutely should. A professional cleaning can remove tartar from your gum line, which goes a long way to keeping teeth clean. Gingivitis is one to be wary of – while it may not sound so serious on its own, it can progress into the much more serious periodontitis, or tooth decay.
If you’re a victim of morning sickness, gastric reflux, or hyperemesis gravidarum, you should be cautious of enamel erosion. Stomach contents can be very acidic, having a pH as low as 1.5, whereas a healthy mouth should have a pH of around 7.5. It’s important after vomiting to rinse your mouth out with water to flush out as much acid as possible – but don’t brush immediately. Brushing can ground the acid into your enamel, so rinse first, give it about half an hour, and then brush. Another good trick for neutralising acid is dissolving a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water and using that to rinse. Chewing sugar free gum throughout the day can also help increase saliva production and neutralise the pH in your mouth, and mint is a good, natural aid for quelling nausea.
Now, the word tumour makes this condition sound a lot more serious than it actually is. Don’t worry – pregnancy tumours are benign tumours, aka not cancerous, and they show up on the gums of around 5% of pregnant women. During the second trimester some women will notice the appearance of gum tumours that grow in between the teeth. Poor oral hygiene can increase your risk of this, and if they bleed easily, we recommend visiting the dentist to have them removed. Most tumours, however, will shrink on their own after birth.
You may find during pregnancy that your teeth get looser than normal. This isn’t typically anything to worry about, and teeth will usually tighten back up after birth, but you should take extra care.
We don’t mean to scare. There’s plenty you can do during your pregnancy to ensure your oral health is the best it can be. You should maintain routine care with your dentist, including exams and cleaning. Don’t skip your regular dental checkup just because you’re pregnant – if anything, it’s all the more reason to go. Its a good idea to give your dentist some information about your pregnancy too – they may not be your midwife, but it will help them to know how far along you are, if you have a high risk pregnancy, and any medications you may have started taking.
Continue to brush and floss at least twice a day. You should aim to be using a toothpaste with 1000 to 1500 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride in it. The fluoride amount can be found on the side of the toothpaste packaging. Spit out toothpaste when you’ve finished brushing, but don’t rinse.
Try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet (we know cravings are hard) and minimise the consumption of sugary snacks as much as possible. Want to know some foods that are surprisingly good for your oral health? We’ve got a comprehensive list here.
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