Pregnancy and your oral health

Have you heard the saying… “gain a child, lose a tooth”?
Or horror stories about how pregnancy severely damages women’s teeth?

Please don’t worry! The Smile Central team is here to support you through a happy and healthy pregnancy.

During pregnancy, while you can be at a higher risk of dental disease due to the effects of pregnancy hormones on the gums and teeth, the good news is that these potential problems are preventable and manageable. We can give you all the information, tools and support you need to confidently keep that smile gorgeous and healthy!

If morning sickness or reflux is making brushing your teeth difficult, we can help you with tips and tricks. Don’t suffer alone, call us!

Gum disease:

Because gum disease is often painless, many people don’t even realise that they have it.

If you find that your gums become inflamed, tender, red, swollen, or bleed when you’re cleaning your teeth, you may be suffering from gum disease.

The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. While gingivitis is reversible, if it is not treated it can quickly progress and have long-term consequences to both your health and to your pregnancy.

Periodontitis:

Untreated gingivitis can progress and slowly start to cause damage to the jawbone which supports your teeth. This is the second stage of gum disease, known as periodontitis.

Unfortunately, unlike gingivitis, periodontitis is irreversible and once the bone is lost, it cannot be grown back. Long-term, this means that the teeth can become mobile (wobbly) if left untreated.

Maintaining good oral hygiene and having regular professional dental cleans is very important.

Research has also linked periodontitis to an increased risk of premature birth or lower birth weight, which is a complication best avoided.

Please don’t be alarmed, but it is important to see your oral health professional, who will be able to identify if you have gum disease and treat it quickly.

Gestational Diabetes:

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 your pregnancy this condition resolves.

However, if you have pregnancy diabetes it can increase your risk of developing gum disease. So, maintaining good oral hygiene and regular check ups becomes extra important!

It’s important to let your oral health professional know if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Dental Decay:

Unfortunately, pregnancy cravings and increased snacking tendencies can take a toll on the teeth and increase your risk of decay.

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, and create an acidic by-product known to damage the enamel of the teeth.

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 of dental decay.

Dental Erosion:

Acid reflux and morning sickness, causing nausea and vomiting, results in acidic bile from the stomach to come into direct contact with the mouth. When this happens, it can cause irreversible damage to the teeth.

As acid can erode and soften the surface of teeth, over time this can make your teeth sensitive, increase risk of decay, and make you more prone to tooth wear.

For this reason, after an episode of morning sickness or acid reflux you should not brush your teeth straight after. Rather you should wait at least 60 minutes until you do.

Brushing against the softened enamel straight away, will further erode the teeth with your toothbrush.

So, if you are someone who suffers from morning sickness or reflux during your pregnancy, please keep reading as we will discuss a few other ways that you can help to protect your teeth!

SMILE CENTRAL’S TIPS TO KEEPING YOUR MOUTH HEALTHY DURING PREGNANCY:

Given many dental diseases are preventable, while you are pregnant and your risk factors for dental disease are higher, it is important to give your oral health a little more attention.

At Smile Central, we recommend:

  • 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 (e.g. flossing)
    • Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste
  • After acid reflux or morning sickness:
    • Rinsing thoroughly with water immediately after
    • Waiting at least 60minutes until you brush your teeth
    • Using a bicarbonate mouth rinse to help neutralise the pH
    • After 30 minutes chewing a sugar-free chewing gum
    • Limiting your intake of sugary, acidic and sticky foods and drinks
    • Trying to reduce snacking and choosing tooth-friendly foods, like cheese or nuts.

“Brushing my teeth makes me feel sick!”

This is a common complaint, and there are a few reasons why.

Some women find brushing difficult to tolerate during pregnancy as it triggers their gag reflex. Others experience a heightened or altered sense of taste and smell, making it hard for them to tolerate the flavour or smell of toothpaste.

The team at Smile Central have come up with a few extra tips:

  • Try using an electric toothbrush or a small-headed toothbrush (try children’s sized)
  • Reduce the amount of toothpaste on your brush, so it does not over froth
  • Try different brands and flavours of toothpastes – as some are not as intense as others
  • Ask your oral health professional about other products which you could try to use to help strengthen and protect the teeth, such as 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.

At, Smile Central, we like to focus on prevention and gentle, minimally invasive treatment. We have been taking care of thousands of pregnant patients and their children since 1999!

By coming in regularly it means that any changes in your mouth are detected early, before they become problematic.

However, there are a few things which we may do differently when you come in for your appointment if you are pregnant. For example, we may limit or not take radiographs (x-rays).

So, please if you are pregnant, let us know… even if it is early days.

And also let us know if you are considering trying for a baby. That way we can plan your treatments in advance and help get your oral health into great shape ahead of time.

If you have any questions or concerns about how you can best care for your oral health during pregnancy, please do not hesitate to contact the team at Smile Central on 07 3263 1310.

References and Additional Resources:

  1. Australian Dental Association. Pregnancy. 2016. URL: ‘https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Health-Week-2016/Women-and-Oral-Health/Pregnancy’. Accessed September 2019.
  2. 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.
  3. Diabetes Australia. Gestational diabetes. URL: ‘https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/gestational-diabetes’. Accessed September 2019.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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