Pregnancy and oral health
Giving your teeth and gums a little extra TLC when you’re pregnant
9 June 2021
Pregnancy glow? Luscious hair? Pregnancy can have some wonderful side effects! Unfortunately, there are some not-so-pleasant ones too. Every pregnancy is different but it’s important to remember that – just like the rest of your body – your teeth, gums and mouth are affected by hormonal changes. In fact, your gums are more susceptible to inflammation and infection while you’re pregnant.
Dental health affects your overall health, which in turn influences the health of your baby. So maintaining a good dental health routine is vital. This includes flossing and brushing with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day and seeing your dentist for regular check-ups.
Don’t forget to tell your dentist if you’re pregnant (or think you might be) – it might affect any medicines your dentist prescribes. As they do with every patient, your dentist will also minimise your exposure to X-rays. Rest assured, while there are many myths about dental X-rays, the amount of radiation is extremely low (you’re exposed to more radiation on a 1-2 hour flight!).1 And it can be more detrimental to ignore your dental health when you’re pregnant.
Taming the cravings
Some women experience unusual food cravings during pregnancy (pickles and ice cream, anyone?). But if it’s sugary snacks you’ve got a hankering for, remember that they may increase your risk of tooth decay. If nothing but sweetness will satisfy your craving, try to choose healthier options like fresh fruit with natural yoghurt. And always drink plenty of tap water and rinse your mouth between meals.
Remember, you can always chat to your GP, obstetrician or midwife if you’re concerned about your cravings or diet in general during pregnancy.
Morning sickness is just awful, that goes without saying. And as if the nausea and/or vomiting weren’t enough, vomit is extremely acidic and can cause irreversible damage to your teeth (known as dental erosion). This makes your teeth more susceptible to sensitivity and can speed up decay. So, no matter how much you might want to, don’t brush your teeth for around 30 minutes after vomiting (sorry!). Instead try:
- Rinsing your mouth with either an alcohol-free fluoride mouth rinse or a solution of ¼ teaspoon of baking soda mixed into 1 cup of warm water.
- Chewing sugar-free gum or having acid-neutralising food such as milk, cheese or yoghurt (if you can face it).
- Smearing a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste on your teeth for extra protection and to improve the taste in your mouth.
1 Australian Dental Association https://www.ada.org.au/getattachment/Your-Dental-Health/Resources-for-Professionals/Resources-for-Adults-31-64/Oral-health-and-pregnancy-fact-from-fiction/ADA_OHP_FactSheets_Pregnancy_230520