You find out that you are expecting and for the next nine months your body will be going through many changes and there will be many things to think about and do to prepare. Mothers-to-be become health conscious as they not only have to look after themselves but a future little one. The teeth and gums can not be neglected or left out when thinking of a future mother’s health.
The various changes in hormone levels that a pregnant woman experiences increases the risk of dental issues such as gum disease or pregnancy gingivitis and small round bumps that develop on gums, called pregnancy tumors.
What you need to know
Hormones make your gums swell, which makes it easier for food to get stuck in between your teeth. These food particles cause plaque and tartar build up which can lead to gingivitis, a mild type of gum disease. Therefore, it is important to maintain your daily dental routine which should include flossing, as well as brushing twice a day with a soft bristle toothbrush. Besides the swelling, your gums are more susceptible to bleeding so a soft bristle toothbrush is recommended. Rinsing your mouth with salt water can also help with the irritation of the swelling gums. You should consult your dentist if you start experiencing any symptoms. You may even consider having more frequent professional teeth cleanings from a dentist during this time.
Pregnancy tumors are much less scary than they sound, as they are not malignant and look like berries between your teeth. These ‘tumors’ normally appear around the second trimester and can be removed if they cause too much discomfort but they do disappear after the baby is born.
Women who experience morning sickness should also be aware of the impact the stomach acid brought up in their bile will have on their teeth. The acid in morning sickness and even in heartburn and acid reflux has the potential to erode your teeth.
What you can do
Instead of brushing your teeth after a period of morning sickness, rather rinse your mouth out with a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. This will neutralise the acid in your mouth before brushing and protect your tooth enamel. If you do not like the idea of baking soda or do not have any in the house, rinsing your mouth with water and a fluoride mouthwash will also do the trick.
Pregnant women may also have trouble with toothpaste or the activity of brushing teeth actually bringing on nausea or a gag reflex. In this case, switch to a different brand of toothpaste or rinse your mouth with water or a fluoride mouthwash when you feel as if you are going to be sick during brushing. Other remedies include brushing your teeth slower while concentrating on your breathing and using a toothbrush with a smaller head.
If you are trying to fall pregnant, it is advisable that you visit your dentist before you know a baby is on the way so that any dental or oral issues can be dealt with and your teeth and gums can be cleaned so you start on a clean bill of dental health.
If you did not visit the dentist before or during your pregnancy, make sure you let your dentist know on your next visit that you have had a baby and whether or not you are breastfeeding.