Congratulations, you are pregnant! What wonderful news and you feel joyous and over the moon. That is, until your friends, family and anyone who wants to talk to you, tells you about their horror pregnancy and birth. These horror stories normally include dental and teeth stories such as how the baby sucked out all of the calcium out of their teeth and how they lost a tooth every pregnancy. By this stage, you are no longer feeling joyful, instead you head straight to your phone or computer and start googling teeth and pregnancy and feel overwhelmed!
As you have probably figured out, your hormones are in serious overdrive during pregnancy. These hormones can affect the health of your gums and your overall oral health. You may start to notice that your gums start to bleed from the eight to ten week mark of your pregnancy. Some women notice lots of bleeding, others not as much. This is called “pregnancy gingivitis” and as a whole, this is only temporary during your pregnancy if you have never experienced bleeding gums prior to falling pregnant.
To help with assisting the inflammation and bleeding, it is so important to brush your teeth at least 2 times a day and floss at least once a day. If you have never been great at flossing, now is the time to start! If you haven’t already, make an appointment to see your oral health therapist or dental hygienist so they can give your teeth a good clean and help tailor a home oral health care plan to help with the bleeding gums.
Another issue that can affect women during pregnancy is morning sickness, or if it was like mine, severe all day sickness that lasted for the whole pregnancy! When you vomit, the stomach acids dissolve the enamel on your teeth. This is caused erosion, and once the enamel is eroded, you can’t get it back. Enamel is the outer white part of the teeth, so once this starts to dissolve away, the underlying part of the tooth called dentine becomes exposed. Dentine is the sensitive part of your tooth and is yellow in colour.
To help strengthen your teeth, try to not brush your teeth for at least half an hour after vomiting, instead rinsing with a bi-carb soda mouth rinse of ¼ teaspoon of bi-carb soda with a cup of warm water. This will help to neutralise any acids in your mouth and help you feel fresh. Brushing straight after vomiting will cause more damage on your teeth as the enamel is weakened by the acid and will wear quickly.
Food cravings affect so many women during this time. I still remember my obstetrician telling me at my 12 week check-up that the baby, which is the size of a peanut, does not need cream buns! Eating sugary and foods and drinks that are jam packed full of lots of simple carbohydrates, such as the cream buns, biscuits, juices, cordials, sugary teas and cakes increases your risk of dental decay (holes in the teeth).
The bacteria that causes dental decay also feeds off sugar, so the more you eat and the more often you eat it, the bacteria grows which then impacts on your overall oral health. Instead, go for healthy snacks such as vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates and drink plenty of plain water. If you are unsure, speak to your obstetrician, midwife or GP and they can steer you in the right direction of dietician.
Pregnancy really is a joyous and amazing time, just take the time to nurture yourself and your baby. Enjoy the experience and with a few simple steps, you can have a beautiful and healthy smile which is camera ready when your gorgeous bundle of joy arrives.
Leah Hobbs (MamaTuppa) is an Oral Health Therapist with tertiary qualifications in oral health therapy, public health and higher education. Leah has over 10 years experience as an oral health therapist, has worked in public and private settings as well as in academia and she loves to treat expectant mothers, mothers and their children. She thoroughly enjoys educating parents on how to look after their children’s teeth.
Leah has 2 young children, enjoys cooking with them and teaching them about the importance of drinking water and healthy eating.
Instagram @mamatuppa, Twitter @mamatuppa