During pregnancy, women experience numerous physical and hormonal changes that can affect their oral health. In order to maintain good oral hygiene, it is important to be aware of these changes. Common dental issues that may occur include gum problems, nausea/vomiting and cravings for sugary foods.
To help you maintain a healthy mouth and to reduce the effects of pregnancy hormones on your oral health, you may try the following:
- Use fluoridated toothpaste to prevent against dental decay.
- Brush and floss twice a day!
- Brushing and rinsing more often during the day may help to reduce morning sickness!
- Let your dental health care professional know that you are pregnant and when your baby is due.
Gingivitis (inflammation of your gums), is a common dental concern during pregnancy and often occurs during your first trimester. Your gums may appear red and /or swollen. In some cases your gums may become painful and begin to bleed which may worsen and become more irritated during brushing and flossing. If this happens to you, it may be time schedule an appointment with your dental health professional.
Left untreated, the gingivitis may progress to become what is commonly known as a pregnancy tumour. These smaller lesions are fairly easy to manage and treat with local scaling (cleaning) in the area and an oral antibacterial rinse. Larger lesions may need to be removed by your dental professional. It is also advisable to schedule more frequent dental cleanings during your 2nd and 3rd trimesters to decrease your chances of developing or worsening gingivitis. Research suggests an association between gum (periodontal) disease and low birth weight and/or preterm babies. The health of your mouth is an important part of pregnancy health.
Morning sickness during pregnancy is very common and affects more women than not. Excessive vomiting can often expose your teeth to strong acids from your stomach. These acids can increase the risk of tooth erosion which may lead to tooth decay. The best thing to do after vomiting is to rinse your mouth with water and brush 30 – 60 minutes after. Cravings are a given when you are pregnant. One of the most popular cravings is sweets and sugary snacks. If you find yourself in this sweet spot, try to eat your sugary treat with lunch or dinner. This helps to minimize the time your teeth are exposed to sugar. Your new found “sweet tooth” may lead to you to develop a cavity. Prompt and proper oral hygiene will help to reduce the effects of the sugar on your teeth. You may try fresh fruit as an alternative to your sugar craving.
Congratulations and good luck!
Dr. Jessica Aiello, Winston Churchill Dental
“Women.” Ontario Dental Association, 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.
“Oral Health and Pregnancy.” – Health. Government of Saskatchewan, 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.
“Teeth and Pregnancy.” Home. State Government of Victoria, June 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Teeth_and_pregnancy
Giglio, James, Susan Lanni, Daniel Laskin, and Nancy Giglio. “Oral Health Care for the Pregnant Patient.” Journal of the Canadian Dental Association 75.1 (2009).