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Pregnancy and Oral Health
Firstly congratulations!! This is an exciting time for all mums to be but it’s also a time where your general and oral health has to take priority.
Brushing twice a day and regular flossing can fall to the wayside for many reasons including morning sickness, a more sensitive gag reflex, tender and bleeding gums and exhaustion. You may have heard the phrase “You lose a tooth for every child”. While being pregnant may leave you more susceptible to certain dental problems, regular visits to your dentist and good dental care means that you shouldn’t experience anything as serious as tooth loss!
Here’s a few things to remember during your pregnancy to help keep any dental problems to a minimum.
Gingivitis. Hormone changes within the body can lead to increased blood flow which in turn can lead to a condition known as “Pregnancy Gingivitis”. This is inflammation of the gums which leads to swelling, bleeding and tenderness. If this is left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease. Therefore it is essential that you brush twice daily and floss everyday even if your gums are bleeding to prevent this from progressing to something more serious. Gum disease during pregnancy has been linked to early labour and low birth weight babies.
Routine dental treatment is perfectly safe. Although local anaesthetic is safe for both you and your baby, your dentist may decide to wait until the baby is born before carrying out any elective dental treatment. Amalgam fillings are not to be placed during pregnancy and X-rays (although safe) are usually avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Morning sickness. If you find yourself being sick a lot during your pregnancy, don’t reach straight for the toothbrush as brushing can lead to the loss of enamel which is the protective outer coating of the tooth. This is because your stomach acid softens the enamel once you have been sick. Instead rinse your mouth out with water and then brush your teeth 20-30 minutes later as this gives your enamel enough time to re-harden. In the meantime, you can chew either sugar free gum or use fluoride mouthwash to help remove the taste.
Snacking. You may find that you are either eating more or constantly snacking but this can lead to tooth decay. Choose foods low in sugar such as raw fruit and vegetables, yoghurt or cheese. If you are having something sweet, make sure you brush your teeth after 20-30 minutes. Your baby’s teeth will begin to develop between the 3rd and 6th month in the womb so you need to make sure you are eating a balanced diet and taking in sufficient nutrients such as Vitamins A, C and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous.
Hopefully these tips will make your pregnancy go a little more smoothly; the hard work is just around the corner!!