Look after your oral health during pregnancy advise Sevenoaks Dentists

15 September 2016

A woman’s body goes through an enormous amount of change during pregnancy and requires some serious TLC. The dentists and hygienists at Mckenzies Dental Surgery are advising mums-to-be to pay special attention to their gums.

The changes in hormones during pregnancy can cause women to suffer from sore, painful gums, mouth ulcers and gum disease, conditions that some may have also noticed at certain points in their menstrual cycle.

To help minimise any risks during pregnancy, our Sevenoaks dentists and hygienists recommend regular tooth brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing once daily and eating a balanced diet to help reduce any dental problems that can accompany pregnancy.

Regular visits to our London Road dental practice are very important and allow us to keep a close eye on any developments in gum disease. Serious gum disease has been linked to problems with pregnancy and low birth-weight babies, so it is essential that it is closely monitored.

As if morning sickness wasn’t bad enough, it can also cause enamel erosion. When we are sick, the acid in our stomachs that helps break down our food comes into contact with our teeth, eroding the enamel. We recommend rinsing your mouth out with water or a fluoride mouthwash to wash the acid off your teeth and keep the acid levels under control. It is important not to brush right after you vomit, since the acid in your mouth will only help erode the teeth as you brush.

If you have any concerns about your dental health during your pregnancy, please contact us and our Sevenoaks dentists will be happy to help.

Pregnancy gingivitis

The dental experts at Colgate have excellent information on pregnancy gingivitis that we have shared in this blog. Most women notice changes in their gums during pregnancy. Some women notice that their gums look redder and bleed when they brush their teeth, whilst others have severe swelling and bleeding.

All of these changes are referred to as pregnancy gingivitis and they can start as early as the second month. The condition tends to peak around the eighth month and often tapers off after the baby is born.

Pregnancy gingivitis is most common in the front of the mouth. The symptoms are the same as those for gingivitis, but some of the causes are different. Increased hormone levels may be partly responsible for pregnancy gingivitis.

During pregnancy, the level of progesterone in your body can be 10 times higher than normal. This may enhance growth of certain bacteria that cause gingivitis. Also, your immune system may work differently during pregnancy. This could change the way your body reacts to the bacteria that cause gingivitis.

To minimise the effects of pregnancy gingivitis, practice good oral hygiene: brush twice a day, for at least two minutes each time. Floss every day. Using an antimicrobial mouth rinse also may help you control your gum inflammation.

Be sure to have your hygienist check the health of your gums while you are pregnant. Pregnancy gingivitis usually can be helped with professional cleaning and this can be done at any time during your pregnancy. More aggressive treatments, such as periodontal surgery, should be postponed until after delivery.

Dry mouth

During pregnancy, dry mouth can put women at a greater risk of problems such as tooth decay and infections. If you are suffering from a dry mouth, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated (this is also important if you are repeatedly being sick) and chew sugarless gum to enhance the production of saliva. This should contain xylitol, which reduces the harmful bacteria that cause cavities.

Excessive Saliva

Less commonly, pregnant women feel they have too much saliva in their mouths. This condition occurs very early in a pregnancy. It disappears by the end of the first trimester. It may occur along with nausea.

Frequently asked questions from Colgate.com

I’ve heard that pregnant women lose a tooth for every child. Is that true?

No. This is a myth. People used to think that a developing foetus who did not get enough calcium would absorb it from the mother’s teeth. This is not the case. If you practice good brushing and flossing habits, you are no more likely to get cavities or lose teeth during your pregnancy than at any other time.

How should I take care of my teeth and mouth while I’m pregnant?

Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet with plenty of protein, calcium and vitamins A, C and D. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Use fluoride toothpaste. Floss at least once a day. Using an antibacterial mouthwash can help destroy bacteria that contribute to gingivitis. Mouth rinses that lower the acid level (pH) of your mouth are also suggested.

Is it safe to visit the dentist while I’m pregnant?

The best approach to dental care is to see your dentist before you get pregnant for an exam and cleaning. Periodontal disease treatment also can be done at this time.

During your pregnancy, the second trimester is the best time to receive routine dental care. If possible, avoid major procedures, reconstruction and surgery until after the baby is born.

During the first trimester, the foetus’s organ systems are developing, and the foetus is highly sensitive to influences from the environment. In the last half of the third trimester, there is some risk of premature delivery because the uterus is sensitive to external influences. Also, at the end of your pregnancy, it can be uncomfortable to sit in a dentist’s chair. After about 20 weeks of pregnancy, women should not lie on their backs for long periods of time. This can put pressure on large blood vessels and cause changes in circulation.

What should I do about emergency dental treatment while pregnant?

You should receive treatment if it is necessary to ease your pain, prevent infection or decrease stress on you and your foetus. Your dentist should consult with your obstetrician or midwife if he or she has questions about the safety of medicines or anesthesia. This is seldom necessary for routine pregnancies.

Is it safe to get dental x-rays while I’m pregnant?

Advances in technology have made dental x-rays much safer. Digital x-rays use much less radiation than older systems that use dental film. Studies have shown that using a lead apron will protect you and your fetus from radiation. X-rays usually are taken in the first trimester only if they are needed for diagnosis or treatment that cannot wait until after the baby is born. After the first trimester, there is even less chance of any negative results from an x-ray.