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Pregnancy and Your Oral Health

Pregnancy is a special time. How you look after your teeth and gums can affect your baby’s health as well as your own.

During Pregnancy, some women think they should avoid dental treatment but it’s quite the opposite. Pregnancy can lead to dental problems, including gum disease and increased risk of tooth decay.

Gum Disease, Gingivitis and Periodontitis

During pregnancy women are more likely to develop gingivitis (inflammation and bleeding of the gums) Gingivitis affects up to 70% of pregnant women. This is because pregnancy hormones affect the way that the gums react to plaque.

If you already have gingivitis, the condition is likely to worsen and may become periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease which can cause bone loss. In severe cases, this bone loss can lead to loss of teeth.

Tooth Decay

Morning sickness causes nausea and vomiting. Some pregnant women find that brushing their teeth, particularly the molars, provokes retching. However, you risk tooth decay if you don’t brush regularly. This is because vomiting causes acid attack on the teeth.

Suggestions for minimising the harm to teeth caused by morning sickness include:

  • Use a brush with a small head, such as a brush made for toddlers.
  • Slow down your brushing action.
  • Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
  • Try other distractions, such as listening to music.
  • If the taste of the toothpaste seems to provoke your gag reflex, switch to another brand.
  • If vomiting occurs you should rinse with water immediately afterwards. (do not brush teeth for at least 30 minutes after vomiting as the enamel has been softened by stomach acids and will be damaged by brushing)

Frequent snacks and soft drinks to alleviate nausea and cravings for particular foods (often sweet and sticky) can increase your risk for decay. Try to snack on low-sugar foods instead and drink plenty of water.

Could Gingivitis Affect My Baby’s Health?

Yes! Research suggests a link between preterm, low-birthweight babies and gingivitis. Excessive bacteria can enter the bloodstream through your gums. If this happens, the bacteria can travel to the uterus, triggering the production of chemicals called prostaglandins, which are suspected to induce premature labor.

Some Good News

You are less likely to have dental problems during pregnancy if you already have good oral hygiene habits.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Floss between your teeth once daily
  • Visit your dentist regularly for check ups and professional cleaning.

Whether you are pregnant or planning on it, with proper oral hygiene at home and professional help from your dentist, your teeth should remain healthy throughout pregnancy. For more information or to book an appointment, call Vision Dental in Menai on (02) 9543 4222 today!

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