How Can Pregnancy Affect Your Teeth?

There's so much to think about when you're expecting a baby, you might not even consider how pregnancy might be affecting your teeth and gums.

It used to be believed that mothers lose a tooth for every child. This simply isn't true, with greater awareness of the importance of oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly.

However, your teeth will be at increased risk of problems during pregnancy if you let your normal oral care routine slide. This could also potentially have effects for your general health and that of your child. [1]

What oral health problems are linked with pregnancy?

Pregnancy increases your risk factor for developing certain oral health problems. This is due to the hormone changes in your body that can affect how it reacts to bacteria in dental plaque and alter the blood flow to your gums. [1]

The most important oral health concerns to be aware of are:

Gum disease

Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the gums by bacteria. This can cause the gums to swell, redden, bleed when brushed or feel more sensitive. If gum disease is allowed to advance, it can damage the supporting structures of your teeth, leading to tooth loss.

Pregnant women are at higher risk of gum disease due to hormone changes, especially during the second trimester. This condition may also put your child at risk, with an estimated 18 out of 100 cases of premature birth being linked to gum disease. [2]

You may wish to see your dentist if you notice any of the symptoms of gum disease, so they can examine your mouth and discuss treatment options.

Tooth decay

If you have cravings for sweet, sugary snacks during pregnancy, giving in to these cravings may increase your risk of tooth decay. [2]

Tooth decay happens when bacteria in dental plaque feed on sugar and release acids that can wear down the hard enamel surface of your teeth. This can lead to cavities and require a filling, root canal or even extraction if a tooth is too badly damaged to repair.

Regular teeth brushing and flossing can help prevent plaque from forming and protect your teeth, but the more sugar you consume in food and drink, the higher your risk of tooth decay and cavities may be. You should try to reduce added sugar in your diet and choose healthier alternatives to satisfy your cravings if possible.

Tooth erosion

It's not just bacteria that can damage your teeth. If you have morning sickness during your pregnancy, your teeth will be exposed to acids in vomit. This can temporarily weaken the enamel and make it easier to cause damage. [2]

You should avoid brushing your teeth shortly after vomiting, as this could scrape away the enamel, making the teeth more vulnerable to plaque and more sensitive to heat and cold. Instead, you should rinse your mouth with water and consider gargling with a fluoride mouthwash to help disinfect your mouth. You can brush your teeth as normal after 1 hour.

How can I lower my risks?

Many oral health problems are preventable, and you can lower your risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay during pregnancy by sticking to a good oral hygiene routine. This includes:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing between your teeth every day to remove trapped food and plaque
  • Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash
  • Getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D in your diet
  • Keeping up with your scheduled dental visits

If you're planning to get pregnant soon, it's a good idea to book a comprehensive dental assessment with your dentist. If you could benefit from a treatment, this is likely best taken care of before rather than during your pregnancy, as there may be a lower risk of complications.

Need to see a dentist in Brisbane CBD?

If it's time for your check-up and clean or you want to talk a dentist in Brisbane about anything, contact our friendly team at Face Value Dental.

Call us today on (07) 3221 0677 or get in touch online.

References
[1] Australian Dental Association (ADA). Pregnancy [Online] 2016 [Accessed April 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Children-0-11/Pregnancy

[2] Better Health Channel. Pregnancy and teeth [Online] 2006 [Updated February 2018, accessed April 2018] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/pregnancy-and-teeth