Another wives tale?
There’s an “old wives tale” that suggests that women lose a tooth per pregnancy. Pregnancy brings many obvious physical changes, but in the mouth, the experience in pregnancy varies amongst women. Some women may experience little or no changes, others experience subtle and temporary changes which resolve once baby arrives and others may notice severe and significant changes with long term effects.
The reason for oral changes are usually because of:
- Increased acidity in the mouth as a result of ‘morning sickness’ (or all day sickness!), which causes the enamel on teeth to wear away. This can lead to sensitive teeth, thinning teeth, enamel erosion and decay.
- Hormonal changes in pregnancy cause blood vessels in the body to dilate, including the capillaries in the gums. When there is a little bit of plaque on the gums, the gums react more intensely when the capillaries are dilated causing redness and bleeding gums. This is called “pregnancy gingivitis”. In severe cases, this can lead to persistent gum disease and teeth which may become loose.
- Changes in diet in pregnancy due to certain cravings can cause erosion or cavities. The usual culprits are pickles, sugary foods, biscuits, citrus fruits.
Maintaining good oral health is important throughout pregnancy and requires good home care and having a dental check up to prevent and manage any issues. The second trimester is the best time to have any dental treatment, though in recent years, the guidelines have changed to recommend treatment at any time in pregnancy if there is a risk of infection or worsening problems. There has been research to suggest that oral bacteria can impact on the unborn foetus, so appropriate prevention of oral health issues is the ultimate aim of dental care in pregnancy.
The good news is that many oral health issues in pregnancy are preventable. So if you or a loved one are pregnant or thinking of having a baby here are a few tips:
- Brush twice a day, floss daily
- Have a dental check up. When planning to start a family, having a check up before conceiving can ensure that any issues are managed before pregnancy to reduce the impact of dental issues on the pregnancy experience.
- If you experience morning sickness, rinse the mouth with tap water and wait half an hour before brushing. This can reduce the impact of acid erosion.
- If the gums bleed for more than 7 days despite excellent and thorough brushing and flossing, see your dentist.
Swirlit is a healthy drink option, being pH neutral, sugar-free and containing vitamins, minerals, prebiotic and folic acid. It can neutralise the acids in the mouth and stomach and encourage good oral health compared to other bottled drinks.
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