I am sure that many of you have heard the old-wives tale… “gain a child, lose a tooth”.
Or you may have heard other women share horror stories about how pregnancy severely damaged their teeth.
However, at Dentists at Pymble, we know that this should not be the case!
So, we want to share some information with you on how you can reduce your risk of dental disease during pregnancy.
As during pregnancy, you can be at high risk of dental disease … from gum disease to dental decay. But because many dental diseases are preventable, we want to ensure that you have all the tools to dispel this myth and keep that smile!
WHAT ARE YOUR ORAL HEALTH RISKS DURING PREGNANCY?
During pregnancy the body is undergoing a lot of changes. These changes can manifest in the mouth as a result of pregnancy hormones… suddenly increasing your risk of gum disease. But it is not just you gums… your teeth can be affected too!
So, how does this happen?
During pregnancy, the body is changing and the increase in hormones have been shown to affect your gums.
This means that during pregnancy you may find that your gums may become inflamed, appearing red and swollen, they may bleed and be tender to touch. This is known as gum disease or gingivitis.
A lot of people may don’t even realise that they have gum disease.
As gum disease is often a painless dental disease.
At this stage though, gum disease is reversible, but if it is not treated it can have long-term, damaging consequences.
So, it is important to see your oral health professional, who will be able to identify if you have gum disease. But they will also be able to remove any hardened plaque (tartar/calculus) deposits, which may be causing the gum disease.
In some cases though, people may notice that they have gum disease themselves.
As when they are cleaning their teeth they spit out, to find blood in the saliva. Often when this happens people instinctively think they should stop what they are doing for fear that they are causing damage.
However, when the gums bleed and become inflamed, it is almost like there way of letting you know that bacteria (plaque) is irritating them. So, the best thing that you can do is to focus on cleaning these areas more effectively to remove the plaque and bacteria.
Now, if gum disease is left untreated, it can slowly start to cause damage to the jawbone which supports your teeth. This is a disease known as periodontal disease or periodontitis.
Unfortunately, unlike gum disease, periodontal disease is irreversible and once the bone is lost, it cannot be grown back. This long-term means that the teeth can become mobile or wobbly, if left untreated.
So by practising good oral hygiene habits and having regular professional dental cleans, gum disease can be prevented.
But interestingly periodontal disease has been shown to not only affect your mouth… research has now found it can increase your risk of premature birth or lower birth weight – which is pretty scary!
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes which can develop when you are pregnant. For that reason, some people refer to it as pregnancy diabetes.
This condition is characterised by reduced insulin resistance and secretion. Commonly after your pregnancy this condition resolves.
However, if you have pregnancy diabetes it can increase your risk of developing gum disease and periodontal disease. So, maintaining good oral hygiene becomes extra important!
Therefore, it is also advisable to always let your oral health professional know if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Unfortunately, pregnancy cravings and increased snacking tendencies can take a toll on the teeth and it can increase your risk of decay.
So, it is important to be mindful of what you are consuming and how often.
This is because the bacteria which live in the mouth, feed from the sugary and acidic foods we eat and drink, they create an acidic waste by-product know to damage the enamel of the teeth.
Teeth naturally try to repair themselves through a process known as remineralisation. However, when we snack it limits the potential for this process to occur and increases our risk for dental decay.
Acid reflux and morning sickness, causing nausea and vomiting, results in acidic bile from the stomach to come into direct contact with the mouth. When this happens, it can cause irreversible damage to the teeth.
As the acid which comes up, can erode and soften the surface of teeth. This can over time start to make the teeth sensitive, increase risk of decay and make you more prone to tooth wear.
Unfortunately, what many people may not realise though is that after an episode of
morning sickness or acid reflux you should not brush your teeth straight after.
Rather you should wait at least 60minutes until you do.
This is because the acid can soften the tooth’s enamel and by brushing against the softened enamel straight away, you can further erode into the teeth accidentally with your toothbrush.
So, if you are someone who suffers from morning sickness or reflux during your pregnancy, then please keep reading as we will discuss a few other ways that you can help to protect your teeth!
DENTISTS AT PYBMLE’S TIPS TO KEEPING YOUR MOUTH HEALTHY DURING PREGNANCY:
Given many dental diseases are preventable, while you are pregnant and your risk factors for dental disease are higher, it is important to give your oral health a little more attention.
At Dentists at Pymble, we recommend to:
- Practice good oral hygiene habits:
- Toothbrushing at least twice a day with a soft brush
- Clean in between your teeth at least once a day (e.g. flossing)
- Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste
- After acid reflux or morning sickness:
- Wait at least 60 minutes until you brush your teeth
- Rinse thoroughly with water immediately after
- You can use a bicarbonate mouth rinse to help neutralise the pH
- After 30 minutes chew a sugar-free chewing gum
- Limit your intake of sugary, acidic and sticky foods and drinks
- Try to avoid snacking and if you do choose tooth-friendly foods, like cheese or nuts
Now… it is probably a good time to mention that at, Dentists at Pymble, we find that a lot of pregnant women comment saying that…
“Brushing my teeth makes me feel sick!”
It is actually more common than you may think! And there are few reasons why.
Firstly, some women they find brushing difficult to tolerate, as it triggers their gag reflex, or it makes them feel nauseous. Other times though, it is because of altered taste and smell, making it hard for them to tolerate the flavour of the toothpaste.
But the team at, Dentists at Pymble, have come up with a few extra tips to help you potentially overcome this:
- Try using an electric toothbrush or a small-headed toothbrush, like a kid’s toothbrush
- Reduce the amount of toothpaste on your brush, so it does not over froth
- Try different brands and flavours of toothpastes – as some are not as intense as others
- Ask your oral health professional about other products which you could try to use to help strengthen and protect the teeth, such as GC Tooth Mousse.
DENTAL VISITS DURING PREGNANCY:
“Is it okay to go to the dentist when you are pregnant?”
YES! It is advisable and safe to go to the dentist when you are pregnant.
At, Dentists at Pymble, we cannot emphasise that enough.
Given that you are at a higher risk of dental disease during pregnancy, it is important to still see your oral health professional. But also considering that many dental diseases are painless in their early stages and difficult to detect yourself at home, this makes it even more important to see them.
At, Dentists at Pymble, we like to focus on prevention – rather than a curer.
So, by coming in regularly it means that any changes in your mouth are detected early, before they become problematic.
We also take into consideration your dental history and risk factors for dental disease. And we can give you a tailored oral health care plan to further help reduce your risk of dental diseases while you are pregnant and breastfeeding.
However, there are a few things which may do differently when you come in for your appointment if you are pregnant. For example, we may limit or not take radiographs (x-rays).
So, please if you are pregnant, let us know… even if it is early days.
And also let us know if you are considering trying for a baby. That way we can give you all the tips and tools to help ensure that your teeth are protected from the very start!
If you have any further questions or concerns about how you can best care for your oral health during pregnancy,
then please do not hesitate to contact the team at, Dentists at Pymble on 02 9488 7555, to arrange an appointment.
We thank you for reading this article and remember to also check back regularly, as in the future we will be talking about teething and how best to care for your baby’s teeth!
References and Additional Resources:
- Australian Dental Association. Pregnancy. 2016. URL: ‘https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Health-Week-2016/Women-and-Oral-Health/Pregnancy’. Accessed September 2019.
- Dental Practice Education Research Unit, ARCPOH. Pregnancy: oral health during pregnancy [pamphlet]. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Australia. Available from: ‘https://www.adelaide.edu.au/arcpoh/dperu/special/pregnancy/pregnancy_DL.pdf’. Accessed October 2019.
- Diabetes Australia. Gestational diabetes. URL: ‘https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/gestational-diabetes’. Accessed September 2019.
- Mater Mothers Hospital. Dental health and pregnancy. Mater Mothers. URL: ‘http://brochures.mater.org.au/home/brochures/mater-mothers-hospital/dental-health-and-pregnancy’. Accessed October 2019.
Queensland Government. Oral health and pregnancy: keeping teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy. URL: ‘https://www.health.qld.gov.au/oralhealth/healthy_smile/pregnancy’. Accessed September 2019.