Pregnancy changes the hormones in the body & frequent eating put pregnant women at increased risk for oral health disease, which is the most severe form of gum disease. All women who are considering pregnancy or are pregnant, should see a dentist for regular check-ups to take care of any potential oral care problem like plague build-up.
Evidence suggests that most infants and young children acquire caries-causing bacteria from their mothers. Providing pregnant women with counselling to promote healthy oral health behaviours may reduce the transmission of such bacteria from mothers to infants and young children, thereby delaying or preventing the onset of caries.
Dental health problems during pregnancy can be due to:
- gum problems
- cravings for sugary foods
- retching while brushing teeth.
Dealing with Oral Health Pregnancy Changes
Morning Sickness and Your Teeth
Morning sickness is a part of pregnancy for many women. It also brings up concerns about oral health and pregnancy, as the acid from your stomach can be strong enough to contribute to tooth erosion. If you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux later in your pregnancy, the gastric acid can have the same effect on your teeth.
You may rush to brush your teeth immediately after a bout of morning sickness, the best thing you can do to protect your enamel is swish with baking soda and water afterward. Baking soda is basic, meaning it will help neutralize the acid from your stomach. Mix about a teaspoon of it into a cup of water, then use the mixture to rinse out your mouth before brushing.
Dysgeusia and Ptyalism
During pregnancy, you may experience symptoms of dysgeusia (changing taste buds or a bad taste in your mouth) or ptyalism (too much saliva).
- Cope with a bad taste in your mouth: Brush often, and gargle with a mixture of baking soda and water (1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in one cup of water) to help neutralize pH levels
- Add lemon to water, drink lemonade or suck on citrus drops.
- Use plastic dinnerware and utensils to help decrease metallic taste
- To help cope with an increase in saliva, drink plenty of fluid to increase swallowing. Sucking on candies may also offer relief.
During pregnancy, 50 to 70 percent of all women experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. This is why it’s vital to pay more careful attention to your daily brushing and flossing routine to keep plaque under control.
- Use a rechargeable electric toothbrush. Many remove more plaque than regular manual toothbrushes, and by investing in one, you can begin to take the steps to reduce the amount of plaque in your mouth and help prevent and reverse gingivitis.
- Brush with an anti-gingivitis toothpaste. Be sure to read packaging carefully to make sure the toothpaste contains gingivitis-fighting ingredients.
- Floss regularly. Even if gingivitis causes your gums to swell and bleed, but you still need to floss. By flossing daily, you can eliminate more plaque than brushing alone and help reduce your risk of developing pregnancy gingivitis.
- Rinse with anti-gingivitis mouthwash. Rinsing with an alcohol-free, anti-gingivitis mouthwash is the final step to killing germs and improving your oral hygiene during pregnancy.
It is essential for health professionals (e.g., dentists, dental hygienists, physicians, nurses, midwives, nurse practitioners, physician assistants) to provide pregnant women with appropriate and timely oral health care, which includes oral health education.