The second part of our three-part series on women’s dental health focuses on how pregnancy affects your teeth and gums.
While pregnancy is one of the most exciting times, here at Number 18 Dental, we also see a lot of expectant mums who are concerned with how to look after their teeth when they’re pregnant.
How does pregnancy affect the teeth?
Have you ever heard that ‘you lose a tooth for every child’? Well, you’ll be glad to know it’s simply an old wives’ tale! Growing foetuses don’t steal calcium from their mothers’ teeth, so you have nothing to worry about so long as you maintain good dental hygiene.
However, pregnant women are more at risk of certain problems due to hormonal changes in their body, so it’s important to pay attention to your teeth and gums when you’re pregnant. Here are some of the most common:
Not all women experience morning sickness but for those who do, enamel erosion could be a consequence. That’s because the acid entering the mouth from the stomach can eat away at the dental enamel. Make sure you rinse with water or fluoride mouthwash but don’t brush until an hour later because this can make the erosion worse.
Pregnancy gingivitis is a common problem as a result of increased progesterone in the body, resulting in red, swollen and bleeding gums, most often near the front of the mouth. It can develop around the second month and will pass after delivery. Eating well and brushing twice a day for a full two minutes with a soft-bristled brush, as well as flossing and rinsing with mouthwash daily will help keep this at bay.
These red swellings (often mistakenly referred to as tumours) appear in up to 10% of pregnant women and are often found on the upper gumline in the second trimester. They may bleed or develop a crust but will usually disappear after the birth. These can spring up for a variety of reasons, including trauma, hormones and viruses, but poor oral hygiene is also a cause. You can prevent them by brushing, rinsing and flossing daily.
Some pregnant women experience mouth dryness which can be a breeding ground for bacteria and therefore decay and bad breath. Drink plenty of water regularly and chew sugar-free gum. You might also want to avoid alcohol-based mouthwash as this can dry out your mouth further.
How do I keep my teeth healthy during pregnancy?
When you are pregnant, and especially if you suffer from any of these dental problems, regular dental checkups are essential.
If you’re planning to get pregnant, the best advice is to come and see us as soon as possible before you conceive. That means you can have your teeth thoroughly cleaned and any problems treated in advance.
You’ll likely also have been advised to take certain vitamins and minerals or increase your dosage. Calcium and vitamin D are especially important to help strengthen the bones of you and your little one, helping your teeth stay in great shape too. Sources include dairy, oily fish and leafy veg, amongst other foods, but you can also just as easily take supplements. Be sure that you only consume foods considered safe during pregnancy too.
Can I have dental treatment when I’m pregnant?
Dental treatment in pregnancy is still possible. While dentists can safely carry out routine dental work at any point during pregnancy – as well as an urgent procedure if needed – anything which is unnecessary (such as cosmetic treatments or procedures like filling replacements) should be left until after the birth.
You should let us know that you are pregnant as well as what vitamins, supplements or medication you are taking.
Many women might also wonder, ‘can I have an x-ray when pregnant?’ The good news is x-ray technology is much safer today than the past with much smaller levels of radiation found in dental x-rays. Nevertheless, if the treatment isn’t urgent, your dentist might put it off. If necessary, they will protect your tummy and thyroid with a lead apron to prevent exposure to your baby.
Are you trying to get pregnant or found out that you are? Congratulations! Book your antenatal dental care appointment in Notting Hill at Number 18 Dental where our friendly staff will ensure you and baby are well looked after.
Read the first part of our series on women’s dental health and remember to check back next month when we discuss how ageing and the menopause affect women’s teeth.