By: Dr Matt Hopcraft, http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au
While moms-to-be are aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and taking care of their bodies during pregnancy, they may not know about the effects that pregnancy can have on their teeth and gums. Think cavities, damaged tooth enamel, and even periodontal disease.
While the old wives’ tale ‘gain a child, lose a tooth’ is probably a bit of a stretch, there is a link between pregnancy and dental problems. Leading Australian dentist and Oral-B consultant, Clinical Associate Professor Matt Hopcraft shares some of the biggest concerns mums-to-be should look out for, and tips on how to maintain good oral health during pregnancy.
1. Morning sickness
Morning sickness is most common during the first trimester of pregnancy and can increase the levels of acidity in your mouth, resulting in erosion of the tooth enamel. Rather than brushing your teeth immediately after an episode of morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water first. This will give your saliva time to neutralize the acidic effects, and then brush your teeth around 60 minutes later.
2. Hormonal changes
During pregnancy, hormonal changes with estrogen and progesterone can cause more blood to flow to the gums, making them more susceptible to plaque bacteria. This can cause the gums to become inflamed, swell and bleed easily. If your gums are especially sensitive, try a soft floss that slides easily and comfortably between teeth, and make sure you look for a toothpaste that addresses your key dental health concern.
3. Frequent eating
During pregnancy, women are likely to be eating and drinking more frequently. And with this larger appetite comes a more frequent sugar intake and an increased risk of cavities. It is extremely important during pregnancy to stick to a sound dental routine, including brushing for two minutes, twice a day and flossing regularly, paying special attention to your back teeth which are likely to have more plaque on them because they are harder to reach.