“Gain a child, lose a tooth”
I am sure that many of you have heard the old-wives tale, “gain a child, lose a tooth”. Or you may have heard other women share horror stories about how pregnancy damaged their teeth.
At King Street Dental Practice we know that this should not be the case!
So, we want to share some information with you on how you can reduce your risk of dental disease during pregnancy. As during pregnancy, you can be at high risk of dental disease – from gum disease to dental decay. But because many dental diseases are preventable, we want to ensure that you have all the tools to dispel this myth and keep that smile!
WHAT ARE YOUR ORAL HEALTH RISKS DURING PREGNANCY?
During pregnancy the body is undergoing a lot of changes. These changes can manifest in the mouth as a result of pregnancy hormones, suddenly increasing your risk of gum disease. But your teeth can be affected too.
So, how does this happen?
During pregnancy, the body is changing and the increase in hormones have been shown to affect your gums. This means that during pregnancy you may find that your gums may become inflamed, appearing red and swollen, they may bleed and become tender to touch. This is known as gum disease or gingivitis.
A lot of people may not realise they have gum disease. As gum disease is a painless condition. So, it is important to see your oral health professional who will be able to identify gum disease but also remove any hardened plaque (tartar) deposits which may be causing gum disease.
Other people may first notice that they have gum disease when they are cleaning their teeth. When they spit out, there may be blood in the saliva or toothpaste. Often when this happens people instinctively think they should stop what they are doing for fear that they are causing damage.
However, when the gums bleed and become inflamed, it is almost like there way of letting you know that bacteria (plaque) is irritating them. So, the best thing you can do is to focus on cleaning these areas to effectively remove the bacteria. At this stage, gum disease is reversible, but if it is not treated it can have long term, damaging consequences.
If gum disease is left untreated it can cause damage to the jawbone which supports your teeth. This is called periodontal disease. Unfortunately, periodontal disease is irreversible and once the bone is lost, it cannot be grown back. This long term means that the teeth can become mobile and wobbly.
So, preventing gum disease by practising good oral hygiene habits and having regular dental cleans, before it turns into periodontal is very important. But interestingly periodontal disease has been shown to not only affect your mouth, with research now showing it can increase your risk of premature birth or lower birth weight. Which is pretty scary!
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes which can develop when you are pregnant. For that reason, some people refer to it as pregnancy diabetes. This condition is characterised by reduced insulin resistance and secretion. Commonly after pregnancy this condition resolves.
However, if you have pregnancy diabetes it can increase your risk of developing gum disease and periodontal disease. So, maintaining good oral hygiene becomes extra important. It is also advisable to let your oral health professional know as well if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Unfortunately, pregnancy cravings and increased snacking tendencies can take a toll on the teeth. It can increase your risk of decay. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of what you are consuming and how often.
This is because the bacteria which live in the mouth feed from the sugary and acidic foods we eat and drink, creating an acidic waste by-product know to damage the enamel of the teeth. The teeth naturally try to repair themselves through a process known as remineralisation. However, when we snack it limits the potential for this process to occur and increases our risk for dental decay.
Acid reflux and morning sickness causing nausea and vomiting, causes acidic bile from the stomach to come into contact with the teeth and mouth. When this happens, it causes irreversible damage to the teeth. As the acid erodes the surface of teeth which can start to make the teeth sensitive and more prone to wear.
What some people may not realise though is that you after an episode of morning sickness or acid reflux you should not brush your teeth straight after. This is because the acid can soften the tooth’s enamel. By brushing against the softened enamel, you can further erode into the teeth accidentally with your toothbrush. See our tips below for further ways that your can protect your teeth after and episode of morning sickness and acid reflux.
KING ST DENTAL PRACTICE’S TIPS TO KEEPING YOUR MOUTH HAPPY DURING PREGNANCY:
Given many dental diseases are preventable, whilst you are pregnant and your risk factors are higher, it is important to give your oral health a little more attention.
- At King Street Dental Practice we recommend to:
- Practice good oral hygiene habits:
- – Toothbrushing at least twice a day with a soft brush
- – Clean in between your teeth at least once a day
- Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste
- After acid reflux or morning sickness:
- – Wait at least 60minutes until you brush your teeth
- – Rinse thoroughly with water
- – Use a bicarbonate mouth rinse
- – After 30minutes chew a sugar-free chewing gum
- Limit intake of sugary, acidic and sticky foods and drinks
- Avoid snacking, but if you do choose tooth-friendly foods, like cheese or nuts
“Brushing my teeth makes me feel sick!”
This is more common than you make thinks!! This is because some women find brushing difficult to tolerate, as it triggers the gag reflex or makes them feel nauseous. Sometimes because of altered taste and smell, it makes it hard for some women to tolerate the toothpaste too.
But the team at King Street Dental Practice have a few extra tips to help overcome this:
- Try using an electric toothbrush or a small-headed toothbrush, like a kid’s toothbrush
- Reduce the amount of toothpaste on your brush, so it does not over froth
- Try different brands and flavours of toothpaste as some are not as intense as others
- Ask your oral health professional about other products which you could use to help strength and protect the teeth, like GC Tooth Mousse
DENTAL VISITS DURING PREGNANCY:
“Is it okay to go to the dentist when you are pregnant?”
YES! It is advisable and safe to go to the dentist when you are pregnant. Especially as many dental diseases are painless in their early stages and difficult to detect yourself at home. This makes it important to still see your oral health professional. But also, even more important to do so when you are pregnant and your risk factors for dental disease are higher.
At King Street Dental Practice we like to focus on prevention. So, coming in regularly means that any changes in your mouth are detected early before they become problematic. We also take into consideration your risk factors and can give you a tailored oral health care plan to further reduce your risk of dental diseases whilst you are pregnant.
However, there are a few things which may do differently when you come in for your appointment.
Such as limiting or not taking radiographs (x-rays). Just make sure you let us know if you are pregnant when you come in!
Also, let us know if you are trying for a baby. That way we can give you all the tips and tools to help ensure that your teeth are protected from the start!
If you have any further questions or concerns about how you can best manage your oral health during pregnancy, then please do not hesitate to contact the team at King Street Dental Practice on (02) 6672 1788.
But remember to also stay tuned for future posts when we will talk about teething and caring for your baby’s teeth!
- Australian Dental Association. Pregnancy. 2016. URL: ‘https://www.ada.org.au/
Dental-Health-Week-2016/Women- and-Oral-Health/Pregnancy’. Accessed September 2019.
- Dental Practice Education Research Unit, ARCPOH. Pregnancy: oral health during pregnancy [pamphlet]. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Australia. Available from: ‘https://www.adelaide.edu.au/
arcpoh/dperu/special/ pregnancy/pregnancy_DL.pdf’. Accessed October 2019.
- Diabetes Australia. Gestational diabetes. URL: ‘https://www.
diabetesaustralia.com.au/ gestational-diabetes’. Accessed September 2019.
- Mater Mothers Hospital. Dental health and pregnancy. Mater Mothers. URL:‘http://brochures.mater.
org.au/home/brochures/mater- mothers-hospital/dental- health-and-pregnancy’. Accessed October 2019.
- Queensland Government. Oral health and pregnancy: keeping teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy. URL: ‘https://www.health.qld.gov.
au/oralhealth/healthy_smile/ pregnancy’. Accessed September 2019.