It is incredibly important for every expecting mother to take care of her oral health during pregnancy.
In addition to your daily dental cleaning routine of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, it is also recommended to see your dental hygienist for a professional cleaning every 3 months. Our dental hygienist, Sarie, explains why it is important to see your dental hygienist more frequently during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, women are prone to ”pregnancy gingivitis”, which, if left untreated, could develop into periodontitis (irreversible gum disease, including bone loss around the teeth). This might cause you to lose your teeth due to reduced levels of bone support.
Periodontal disease (gum disease) of the pregnant mother is one of the risk factors for preterm delivery and/or low birth weight of a newborn baby.
Pregnancy hormones soften the ring of muscle that keeps food inside the stomach. Gastric reflux and/or vomiting associated with morning sickness can cover your teeth with strong stomach acids. Repeated reflux and vomiting can damage the enamel and increase the risk of decay.
Here are some tips from our Hygienist, Sarie in relation to oral health during pregnancy:
Hormones cause a change in your sense of taste and often cause a metallic taste in your mouth:
Banish the metallic taste with acids such as citrus juices or foods marinated in vinegar
Brush your tongue
Rinse with mild salt water
Change prenatal vitamins if possible
Pregnancy gingivitis caused by the hormonal changes will be milder if you have optimum oral health before falling pregnant.
You are able to reduce the risk of decay during pregnancy by limiting your intake of sugar and carbohydrates.
During pregnancy it is common to gag while brushing. Especially when brushing the tongue or back teeth:
Use a small toothbrush (children’s brush)
Close your eyes when brushing and concentrate on your breathing
Try another brand of toothpaste
Increase calcium intake and Vitamin D.
Chew sugar-free gum after meals and especially after sugary snacks. This will help restore the mouth’s pH a lot quicker and reduce the risk of decay.
Inform your dentist/hygienist that you are pregnant.
If possible, have any dental work performed between 14-20 weeks of your pregnancy. If possible, all other invasive dental treatment such as extractions or root canal treatment and teeth whitening should only be done after your pregnancy.
Sarie Liebenberg is a passionate Hygienist with a combination of good people skills, compassion for her patients and love for her profession. She began her dentistry career at the School of Oral Health Sciences at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She currently works in Pembroke Dental Newbridge.