Now that you're pregnant, your body creates additional progesterone and oestrogen, and your blood flow increases by 30 to 50 percent. This hormonal and blood surge can cause your gums to soften and bleed which in turn leaves you more susceptible to gum disease, gingivitis (combined gum disease and sensitivity) and other dental problems. If these oral conditions are left untreated, this could affect both your and your baby's health.
We look at the myths that still exist around dental health during pregnancy to ensure that you look after your gums and teeth well during pregnancy.
Dental care myths busted
- Going to the dentist while you are pregnant may harm your baby: This is only applicable should you be having X-rays and anaesthetic, or if you're having fillings that may contain mercury. Although there is no evidence to suggest mercury fillings are a health risk to pregnant women, they're generally avoided (where possible) until after the birth.
- You don't need to go to the dentist while you're pregnant: Regular check-ups during your pregnancy is perfectly normal and, in fact, it's encouraged so that you don't end up with serious oral health issues.
- The old wives' tale that you lose a tooth for every child you have: This myth stems from many years ago when oral health and nutrition weren't up to the standard they are today. As long as you care for your teeth properly and eat a well-balanced diet, there's no reason why you should lose any teeth during your pregnancy.
- Dental treatments will affect the taste of your breast milk. The taste and quality of your breast milk is not affected by dental treatments.
How to care for your gums and teeth during pregnancy
- If you haven't visited the dentist for a while, now is the time. Not only will your dentist be able to assess the condition of your teeth, but you can also consider visiting a hygienist for a thorough clean and getting some useful oral health tips which you can apply throughout your pregnancy.
- If you need a filling, your dentist will decide on the best course of treatment, taking into consideration your stage of pregnancy.
- Remember that brushing your teeth now is more important than ever. Remember not to brush side to side but rather in small circular movements. Remember to brush after meals and especially after sugary snacks.
- If you're suffering from morning sickness, don't brush your teeth immediately after being sick. The acid from your stomach can cause tooth erosion which will worsen with brushing. Instead, rather rinse your mouth with water or a mouthwash and brush your teeth an hour later.
- Invest in a good toothbrush: Using an electric/battery operated brush with fluoride toothpaste will ensure a thorough clean. If your budget is limited to a manual brush, opt for a soft, but firm bristled brush that will reach all those hard-to-get-to areas at the back of your mouth.
- Watch your diet: Try not to give in to too many sugary cravings and stick to a healthy, well-balanced diet packed with nutrient-rich fruit and vegetables.
- Flossing is just as important and effective during your pregnancy. Floss at least once a day.
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