How pregnancy affects your teeth ?March 10, 2020 7:19 am
Being pregnant is a wonderful time that’s very exciting for everyone involved. However, all the changes in your body at this time also mean that there are a few health risks that should be managed carefully. On that list is your dental health. You might not expect it, but the changes brought about by pregnancy can impact the health of your teeth and gums.
- Why my teeth?
During pregnancy your hormones will change – a lot! This means that your body also changes the way it reacts to bad stuff. All of us have good and bad bacteria living in our mouths. Normally your body can work out what it needs to do to keep everything in check and prevent the bad bacteria from taking control. However, a change in hormone levels can disrupt this cycle. It can also worsen conditions that you might not be aware you even had.
- How does that happen?
Bacteria in the mouth feed on the food that we eat, and, if not brushed away, multiply and form a sticky plaque. During pregnancy, you’re not able to fight off these bacteria as normal. Plaque accumulates and, eventually, irritates the gums around your teeth. What doesn’t help is that a key pregnancy hormone called progesterone can actually encourage the growth of certain bacteria.
- What are the risks?
Your gums become irritated, inflamed and red, and may bleed during brushing. This is pregnancy gingivitis and is one of the most common dental problems. If you already have mild gum disease, pregnancy can unfortunately make it worse. Tooth decay is also very common, with the same causes behind it. Elsewhere in the body, pregnancy hormones can soften the muscle around the stomach, making sickness more likely. Stomach acid is very strong, and if it gets in contact with teeth it will damage them. During pregnancy, there is also a very small risk of developing a pregnancy granuloma, which is a growth on gums. Though the name is scary, it’s not cancer! It might form an ulcer which can be uncomfortable. They usually disappear after birth.
- What should I do?
A good daily hygiene routine is the best way to keep all kinds of problems at bay. It’s also important to have quality dental care. The best dentist will give you tips on how to avoid problems. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste is a good start! Floss every day too. Try and avoid sweet foods, even if you have cravings – the sugar won’t help and can increase the risk of tooth decay. Keep a balanced diet that has lots of protein, and sources of calcium like yoghurt, beans and lentils. Ideally, you shouldn’t take any medicines, particularly during the first trimester.
- When to seek treatment
If you think you have a dental problem then it’s important to seek out dental care during pregnancy as soon as you can. The norm is for 6-monthly appointments, though quality dental care is super-important if you are pregnant, so you may want to schedule more frequent appointments than normal. It’s a good idea to get a tooth clean in the first and second trimesters. If you already have a problem such as a cavity caused by tooth decay, or gingivitis, tooth treatment during pregnancy can fix this. The best dentist will recommend a filling for fixing tooth cavities or a scale and polish to remove the plaque and tartar from bacteria build-up. Any procedures that aren’t urgent will usually be delays until after the first trimester, just to be safe. X-rays will only be performed if it really is an emergency.
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