Congratulations – you’re having a baby! Pregnancy can be an exciting time, but it also means you need to give your teeth, mouth and gums a little extra attention in order to keep both yourself and your baby safe.
Why is Oral Health So Important During Pregnancy?
Good oral health is important all of the time. But when you’re pregnant, keeping your mouth healthy is essential for both you and your baby.
- Bad bacteria from an unhealthy mouth can pass on to your baby, meaning that they might also experience tooth decay problems in the future
- Diseases like gingivitis and other gum ailments can harm the development of your baby if they become severe
- Staying healthy yourself during your pregnancy is important – and it also means you can enjoy your pregnancy much more!
Pregnancy Problems That Can Affect Your Oral Health
1. Morning Sickness (Vomiting) & Acid Reflux
Morning sickness is a very common pregnancy ailment and the acid from your stomach can contribute to enamel erosion. If you do experience vomiting or acid reflux, you should:
- Wash your mouth out straight away; water mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda is a good rinse
- Spread a small amount of toothpaste over your teeth or use an alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash to help strengthen enamel
- Chew sugar-free gum to help produce saliva and combat acid
- Avoid brushing your teeth for half an hour; brushing too soon can wear away the enamel on your teeth
2. Hormone Changes & Gingivitis
Changes in your hormones during pregnancy can also make your more susceptible to gum diseases like gingivitis. Gingivitis must be identified and treated early on to prevent the disease from harming your baby’s development in the womb.
Common signs of gingivitis and gum disease include: Swollen/red gums, bleeding gums, sore gums, bad breath.
If you experience any of these, you should visit your dentist immediately and ensure you are carrying out good oral health practices.
3. Sugary Cravings
Sugary cravings during pregnancy are also very common, but you should try to eat a balanced diet and only snack on foods that are low in sugar. Natural foods that contain sugar – like fruits and yoghurts – can also help you satisfy your cravings.
If you consume foods that are rich in sugar, make sure you brush your teeth after you finish eating.
4. Gagging & Retching
You may feel like gagging or retching when brushing your teeth while pregnant. This is normal and you can alleviate the problem by:
- Trying a different toothpaste
- Changing to a smaller toothbrush (e.g. a kid’s toothbrush) that easily fits inside your mouth
- Brushing more slowly
- Closing your eyes while brushing and focusing on your breathing
General Pregnancy Tips for Good Oral Health
- Brush your teeth twice a day, using a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss at least once per day (usually at night)
- If you need to use a mouthwash, make sure it contains fluoride
- Consume foods that are rich in calcium, such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, dark leafy vegetables, almonds and brazil nuts
- Drink lots of water
When to Visit Your Dentist
- If you are trying to become pregnant, it is a good idea to visit your dentist beforehand so that any oral problems can be treated straight away. Tell your dentist that you are planning to conceive and ask him/her for oral health advice
- If you are thinking of undergoing any cosmetic treatments (like teeth whitening, veneers), it’s a good idea to get these done before you fall pregnant as well
- When you become pregnant or if you are already pregnant, you should organise to visit your dentist during your second trimester, which will usually be after your morning sickness/acid reflux has passed. Dental treatments are safe during pregnancy
Looking for a great dentist to care for you during your pregnancy?