There are plenty of old wive’s tales out there about how pregnancy can lead to women’s teeth falling out, home remedies to prevent this, or concerns how tooth decay and gum disease might affect your unborn baby. Loock Dental thought that this close to Mother’s Day, we would make a post for expecting mothers with facts and tips for maintaining a healthy smile throughout your pregnancy and beyond.
How does pregnancy affect teeth?
Hormonal changes in pregnancy can affect your teeth and gums, and up to 75% of pregnant women experience some form of periodontal disease. This is because the same hormones that cause discomfort during pregnancy, such as morning sickness, can lead to your being more likely to suffer from a build up of dental plaque. Dental plaque in turn can lead to cavities and infection of the gums, or a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis.
Can teeth problems during pregnancy affect your baby?
There are claims on the internet that research has shown a link between severe gum disease when a woman is pregnant affects her baby or can even cause low birth weight or premature birth. However, a large American study, which also reviewed other international studies, did not in fact find a clear link between negative birth outcomes and a mother’s oral health.
Bear in mind, however, that there is an established link between your general health and well-being and your oral health, as Loock Dental have discussed in a previous blog post. So it is worth keeping your dental checkup appointments and keeping up good oral hygiene and a teeth-friendly, healthy diet throughout your pregnancy, for your baby’s sake as well as your own.
How common is it to lose teeth during pregnancy?
Advanced gum disease or periodontitis, as well as cavities, are more common in pregnant women and up to 75% suffer from gum disease. Gum disease and an increase in cavities can in turn lead to the loss of teeth if not diagnosed and treated on time.
The risk of gum disease and caries is highest between months 2-8 of your pregnancy. However, with good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups there is no reason why a pregnant woman should loose teeth or develop any advanced gum disease or cavities.
Is teeth sensitivity more common during pregnancy?
If you suffer from frequent acid reflux or morning sickness, the frequent contact of stomach acids on your teeth can lead to damage of teeth enamel and increased teeth sensitivity. Increased sensitivity of your teeth should be checked out as soon as possible by your dentist so you can start treatment early.
How can I protect my teeth during pregnancy?
Because of the increase in dental plaque and the increased risk of tooth decay when you are pregnant, you might want to consider booking a thorough cleaning with your oral hygienist more frequently than normal, for instance every 3 months rather than every 6 months, and make sure you schedule a check up with your dentist at least once during your pregnancy.
If you do start showing signs of sensitive teeth or bleeding gums, do not stop brushing your teeth. Switch to a softer bristle toothbrush and book an appointment with your dentist for a checkup.
If you suffer from morning sickness or reflux, then after vomiting, do not brush your teeth right away, because the stomach acids on the teeth can cause the bristles to scratch your teeth. Rather rinse with plain water and follow up with a fluoride mouth wash. Wait a while before brushing with a fluoride toothpaste. If you do not have a fluoride mouthwash, you can rub a little fluoride toothpaste onto your teeth with your finger.
Do dentists treat pregnant patients differently?
If you are planning to become pregnant, it is best to try to have any problems or procedures sorted out as far as possible before your pregnancy begins.
Once you are pregnant, it is important to schedule regular checkups, particularly in your second or third trimester. While X-rays are usually avoided when pregnant, it is safe to have dental or other oral X-rays if needed.
You must let your dentist know that you are pregnant, or even suspect you might be pregnant (as well as if you have had your baby and you are breastfeeding), in case this affects choices of medications or other factors while they are treating you.
Your dentist is trained to deal with pregnant patients and will inform you if there are any treatments that are best left until after you have given birth.