Dental Care in Pregnancy
Just like the rest of your body, your teeth, gums and mouth are affected by hormonal changes in pregnancy.
Your gums may begin to bleed easily when you brush or floss, a sign of gum disease commonly known as ‘pregnancy gingivitis’. Though it is often temporary, as are many other health issues during pregnancy, it can seriously weaken the tissues that hold your teeth in place and should not be ignored. It will only usually affect you if you have had some previous gum inflammation and generally if you have kept up a regular routine of brushing, flossing and dental visits prior to conceiving then it should not be a problem.
You may also develop what are called ‘pregnancy tumours’ (pyogenic granulomas) which are red lumpy lesions that appear along the gum line and between the teeth. There is no cause for concern as these usually disappear once you have had your baby.
Unusual food cravings are a fact of life for many pregnant women. If your cravings are for sweet foods, try to limit the sugary snacks and choose healthier options such as fresh fruit with natural or Greek yoghurt.
Morning sickness can also affect your teeth as the acid in vomit has an erosive effect on them. Whilst you may be tempted to brush your teeth immediately, brushing within an hour of vomiting may cause more damage to your teeth by stripping away the enamel. Instead of brushing, try rinsing your mouth with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda mixed into one cup of warm water, chew sugar free gum or try eating an acid-neutralising food such as milk or hard cheese.
You may also be affected by dry mouth (xerostomia), which reduces the amount of saliva that you produce. This can be a problem as it plays a big role in keeping the bacteria that causes tooth decay in check. Gingivostomatitis is another condition that can affect some women. It is hard to miss as it is marked by shiny, pale to deep red gums that bleed easily. If you are diagnosed with either condition the good news is that it can be easily managed by your dentist.
The effect that these hormonal changes have on your oral health during pregnancy means that your dentist should be on your list of health care professionals whom you consult regularly.
You need to make regular visits to your dentist in the lead up to, during and after your pregnancy a priority.
Dr Len Kliman is one of Melbourne’s most experienced and respected Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
With over three decades of experience, Dr Kliman has delivered over 20,000 babies and still counting!
In 2017, Dr Kliman was awarded an Order of Australia for his services to obstetrics and gynaecology