We already know how important it is to watch what we eat during pregnancy and to cut down on our caffeine in-take but not many expectant mums don't know how important it is to look after our teeth during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, increased hormones can wreak havoc on our teeth and gum lines making them more easily irritated and inflamed so it is very important to practice good oral hygiene by keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy while you're expecting.
What if I have morning sickness?
In cases of morning sickness, it is extremely important to take extra care of your pearly whites to prevent the acid from damaging your teeth. It is recommended to avoid brushing directly after you have been sick as the acid from your stomach can, in fact, soften your teeth. If you have nausea or vomiting it is advised to rinse your mouth out with plain water after you get sick.
What about bleeding gums?
Bleeding gums when brushing your teeth is a common complaint of pregnancy and sometimes it is unavoidable. During pregnancy, the gums soften, allowing plaque to form more easily. Try to brush your teeth extra carefully and book a check-up with your dentist if the symptoms persist.
What if I'm retching while brushing my teeth?
If you're experiencing retching while brushing your teeth, try to use a brush with a small head or a toothbrush aimed at young children. Some mothers-to-be often use distractions like listening to music and concentrate on their breathing to help prevent gagging and if the taste provokes your gag reflex simply change to another brand.
What if I'm craving sugary foods while pregnant?
Many women experience food cravings during pregnancy but a regular desire for sugary foods can lead to tooth decay. It is important to try to avoid sugary food and to try a snack on healthier alternatives such as fresh fruit. If you do choose to snack on sugary foods make sure to rinse your mouth with water afterwards or brush your teeth.
Can I have a dental x-ray during pregnancy?
The dose of radiation in dental x-rays is so low there is virtually no risk to an unborn baby - it does not increase the risk of miscarriage nor does it cause any problems such as birth defects or physical or mental problems.
However, if a pregnant woman is exposed to radiation, there is a small increased risk that the baby may go on to develop cancer in childhood - this is why the dose of radiation used in an x-ray is so low.
If you need a dental x-ray, your dentist will usually wait until you've had the baby, even though a majority of dental x-rays don't affect the abdomen area.
Dental problems during pregnancy are less likely to happen if you already practice good oral hygiene. It is important to brush your teeth at least two times a day with fluoridated toothpaste, floss between your teeth and to visit your dentist regularly.