Your teeth, gums and mouth are greatly affected by your hormones, no matter which stage you’re at in your life – whether it’s puberty, dealing with your monthly cycle, pregnancy or menopause.
Each life stage is affected differently, though. So if you’re pregnant, it’s essential you understand these changes and take some care to keep your dental health in check. But there’s no need to worry. Being informed makes the journey far simpler.
When you’re pregnant, your hormonal changes will be noticeable in your mouth and gums at approximately the two-month mark. You may find that your gums are bleeding a little more easily when you brush your teeth; this is known as “pregnancy gingivitis”. Although only temporary, this condition can quite dramatically weaken the tissues that hold your teeth in place, so do keep on top of this. Fortunately, if you’ve enjoyed good dental health before getting pregnant and have not suffered from any bouts of gum inflammation, this condition shouldn’t affect you.
“Pregnancy tumours” sound far scarier than they are. Technically known as pyogenic granulomas, these are little red lumpy lesions that can appear in between your teeth and along the gum line. You needn’t do anything about them, though, and they’ll usually go away once you’ve had your baby.
Morning sickness can be a little nasty on your teeth, as the acid from vomiting can erode your teeth enamel. But don’t go brushing your teeth straight after vomiting to erase the damage – as your tooth enamel will be vulnerable to acid erosion for up to an hour after vomiting. Instead, rinse your mouth with a solution of warm water and a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda. Alternatively, chew sugar-free gum or some hard cheese, or swish your mouth with some milk, which helps to neutralise the acid.
Dry mouth is another condition that affects some women while pregnant. This can be a problem as dry mouth means less saliva than normal, and saliva helps keep bacteria at bay. So without enough saliva, you’re more predisposed to developing gum disease or tooth decay. If this is happening to you, speak to your dentist and take extra care with your oral health during this time to avoid decay or disease.
Gingivostomatitis is a big name for a relatively minor condition that can affect some pregnant women. Fortunately, it is easily detectable. Gums become shiny and pale to deep red and bleed easily.
Food cravings can affect pregnant women differently, but if you find that you’re craving sweet foods, try to find more natural options, and if you do give in to temptation with sugary treats, make sure you rinse or brush your teeth afterwards.
Stay on top of things
There’s no arguing that pregnancy, although wonderful, can be a slightly challenging time for a woman. Not only do you have to deal with myriad physical and emotional changes, but there’s a lot to learn and do.
However, It’s recommendable that you take good care of your dental hygiene while pregnant, and also ensure that you visit your dentist, obstetrician and your GP regularly to keep an eye on your health – before you become pregnant (if possible), during and afterwards.
By staying on top of your dental health, your benefit in the following ways:
- Minimise the chance of leaving serious dental problems undetected
- Free up valuable time. Once your baby has arrived, knowing that your teeth are in good shape
- Avoid developing periodontal disease, which may lead to premature birth