There is an old wives’ tale of “gain a child, lose a tooth”. Although this is a myth and not true, pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of dental problems in some women, including gum disease and increased risk of tooth decay. During pregnancy, your increased hormones can affect your body’s response to plaque. One in four pregnant women believe dental treatment should be avoided during pregnancy, however this is false. It is important for pregnant women to book an appointment in with the dentist to have an assessment of their oral health.
The effects of morning sickness
Pregnant women who experience morning sickness with vomiting or acid reflux are at high risk of tooth erosion. To help reduce this risk, after experiencing morning sickness you can:
Rinse your mouth immediately with water or mouth rinse.
Chew sugar free gum to stimulate saliva to neutralise and wash away acid.
Smear a little bit of toothpaste over your teeth with your finger.
Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing to avoid damaging softened enamel surfaces.
Difficulty of brushing teeth
Some pregnant women find brushing their teeth, particular the back molars, provokes retching. However, not brushing your teeth regularly increases your risk of tooth decay.
Some suggestions to help minimise the retching side effects include:
Using a brush with a small head (such as a toddler’s brush).
Slow down your brushing action.
Try other distractions such as listening to music, or closing your eyes and concentrating on your breathing.
Try a different brand of toothpaste if the taste of toothpaste seems to provoke your gag reflex.
Some women experience unusual food cravings while they are pregnant. A regular desire for high-sugar snacks may increase your risk of tooth decay. It is best to try and snack on low-sugar foods instead.
If you do eat sweet foods, try to choose healthier options such as fresh fruits. Remember to rinse your mouth with water, or brush your teeth after having sugary snacks.
The effects of poor oral hygiene for your baby
Research has shown a link between gum disease in pregnant women and premature birth with low birth weight. Estimates suggest that up to 18 out of every 100 premature births may be triggered by periodontal disease (a chronic infection of the gums). This is why we recommended expectant mothers to come in for an appointment to receive appropriate dental treatment to reduce the risk of premature birth.
The signs of gum disease include:
Please let us know when you come in for an appointment that you are pregnant. Pregnancy may affect your dental care including taking x-rays and medications.