If you’ve recently become pregnant, your head is no doubt buzzing with a thousand thoughts and questions. A trip to the dentist may be the last thing on your mind, but your dental health can have more of an impact on your pregnancy than you might think, so let us fill you in with our guide to dental care during pregnancy.
“Is this safe to do?” is perhaps the most common question for anyone who’s recently become pregnant. We can confirm that dental treatment while pregnant is not only safe but essential to the health of you and your baby.
While it’s best not to schedule any major procedures, especially during the first and third trimesters, regular check-ups and treatment are now more important than ever due to the many changes your body is experiencing.
What are the risks to my teeth and gums while pregnant?
We hope that your teeth should continue to receive the same love and care as always but your pearly whites and gums are at increased risk while you are pregnant.
You may not realise it, but the acidity level in your mouth rises during pregnancy. Coupled with a change in diet and the erosion of tooth enamel caused by morning sickness, this can lead to an increased risk of cavities and tooth decay.
Cavity-causing bacteria can be passed on to children in the womb, increasing the chance of your child developing tooth decay. Ultimately, your child is more than three times as likely to have tooth decay if you leave advanced dental cavities untreated during pregnancy. We need to guard against untreated tooth decay.
It’s a little-known fact that almost half of all women will encounter gingivitis (early-reversible stage gum disease) during their pregnancy. This is due to the increased level of hormones your body is producing, which will cause gum tissue to react differently to dental bacteria and plaque leading to heightened sensitivity in your gums. Sensitive gums are more prone to infection and swelling, which in turn can loosen teeth.
While gingivitis is easy to spot and manage, if left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis (established gum disease) which causes irreversible damage to your teeth and gums. Untreated gum disease is also linked to low birth weights and premature delivery.
How your dentist can help
Gum disease and cavities are easily remedied if caught soon enough. Our skilled dentists will be able to treat any problem as long as you book an appointment for a dental health check and let them know!
Our hygienists will take you through a thorough cleaning treatment, and working hand in hand with our dentists will create a customised plan for your dental care throughout your pregnancy.
How do I maintain a healthy mouth while pregnant?
Find a dental routine that works best for you. If you suffer from strong morning sickness, counteract the negative effect the stomach acid has on your teeth by rinsing your mouth with a diluted non-alcoholic mouthwash or plain water directly afterwards, then brushing carefully 30 minutes later-do not brush straight after an episode of morning sickness .The stomach acid may have pre-softened your dental enamel and the action of a toothbrush and toothpaste may increase the risk of enamel abrasion.
Can’t stand the taste of toothpaste? If the flavour of your toothpaste now seems unbearable due to your changing taste buds, shop around for some different brands and find a toothpaste that tastes right.
Above all, don’t be tempted to skip your regular dental routine due to the side effects of pregnancy, such as tiredness and a sensitive gag reflex. Ensure you brush twice a day with a fluoride containing toothpaste and clean between teeth at least once a day for consistent oral health.
We all know that healthy eating is vital to a healthy pregnancy, but a common natural side effect of being pregnant is food cravings. Trying to satisfy some of those yearnings for sweet snacks with healthy alternatives is great from a nutritional perspective but both chocolate and fruit can have a negative impact on your teeth.
Simply stay mindful that when you eat anything sweet and sticky, it is likely to get stuck between your teeth, so you will need to brush and floss thoroughly at the end of the day.
While you are likely already aware of the best foods to nourish your baby, take special care to get enough of vitamins A, C and D, as well as protein, calcium, phosphorous and folic acid. These vitamins are particularly important between the third and sixth months of pregnancy, as this is when your baby’s own teeth will develop.
Get those pearly whites checked!
Make sure to book regular dental health check-ups throughout your pregnancy. One visit each trimester is advisable to ensure that your mouth is as healthy as ever! If you experience any pain, swelling or blood after brushing, book an appointment as soon as possible to treat the issue. We want to treat any problem early so any treatment necessary is simple.
Keep your dentist informed
As soon as you think you might be pregnant, make sure to let your dentist know, as this may affect any upcoming dental treatment and the medication that may be prescribed for you.. Likewise, inform your dentist of any vitamin supplements and medications advised by your GP to ensure a thorough understanding of your personal needs.
Can I still have major dental procedures carried out, such as root canal?
You can and should still treat any serious problems that require extraction or root canal while pregnant. However, it is best to schedule any non-urgent dental work for the second trimester, as this is when your body is at its most settled during the pregnancy. Emergency treatment, however, should always be carried out as soon as possible.
You can safely receive local anaesthetic while pregnant but speak to your dentist to discuss your options in more detail. If you are considering any cosmetic treatments, such as teeth whitening, it is best to wait until after the pregnancy.
Don’t forget that Pembroke Dental is here to help and advise you at any stage during your pregnancy.