A mother’s body goes through all sorts of changes during pregnancy. We often hear about things like food cravings, foot swelling, and morning sickness, but not as much about how her teeth and gums are affected.
Caring for your teeth during pregnancy is important for both the mother and the baby’s health – so here are a few changes you can expect along with our advice for how to handle them.
Dental Health Before Pregnancy
First thing’s first: you’re less likely to experience problems during pregnancy if you already take good care of your teeth beforehand.
Always make sure that you’re:
- Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing every day
- Eating healthy foods and limiting sugar intake
- Avoiding tobacco products
- Minimizing alcohol consumption
- Visiting your dentist regularly (every 6-12 months)
Tell Your Dentist if You’re Pregnant
Like your other healthcare providers, dentists take extra precautions when they know you’re pregnant in order to ensure the safety of both you and your baby.
If you’re planning on getting pregnant, talk to your dentist to see if there are any treatments that you cannot have while pregnant, or treatments that you want to preemptively schedule.
Non-urgent procedures can usually be performed after the first trimester.
Pregnancy hormones can cause some women to be at higher risk for developing gum problems.
- Gingivitis (gum infection) is likely to happen during the second trimester. Symptoms include gum swelling and bleeding, mostly when brushing and flossing
- Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease – this is when the gums, ligament, and bone that support the tooth become infected
- Pregnancy Epulis or Pyogenic Granuloma is a round, red growth that develops on the gum and can bleed easily
If you experience any of these issues, make sure to get them checked by a dentist before you give birth. While most gum problems caused by pregnancy are usually resolved after birth, some women may still need treatment after pregnancy.
If your gums bleed, don’t stop brushing your teeth. Instead, use a softer-headed toothbrush to ease any discomfort.
Protecting Teeth from Morning Sickness
Gastric reflux (the vomiting associated with morning sickness) can cover your teeth with strong acids, and repeated vomiting can damage tooth enamel and increase risk of decay.
A few ways to protect your teeth after vomiting:
- Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting – brushing while your teeth are still covered in acid can scratch the tooth enamel. Try to wait about an hour if you can.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.
- After rinsing, use a fluoride mouthwash.
Retching or Gagging While Brushing
Some find that brushing, particularly the back teeth, can cause gagging.
Some tips to help prevent gagging:
- Use a toothbrush with a small soft head, like those designed for toddlers
- Take your time, and brush slower than normal
- It may help to close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing
- Try listening to music
- If the taste of the toothpaste causes you to gag, switch to another brand
Experiencing all of these changes in your body, especially for first-time mothers, can be overwhelming. Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself as best as you can, and including your dental health in that checklist,
If you have any questions about dental issues or procedures during pregnancy, call or schedule an appointment any time – we’re happy to help!