Pregnancy and Your Teeth

Your Questions Answered!

Pregnancy is an exciting time in your life, but it can also be one filled with uncertainty and anxiety. Life as you know it is about to change forever! New mothers to be are encouraged to exercise and eat well, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, and to generally take care of themselves. But dental health is often overlooked at this important time.

To help we’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions on Pregnancy and your Dental Health.

Should I let my dentist know that I am pregnant?

Yes, it is important to let your Dentist know before starting any treatment. Where possible, it is important to continue routine visits to your Dentist during your pregnancy. Most dental treatment can be carried out safely during this time, however elective procedures requiring general anaesthetic or IV sedation are usually deferred until after your baby is born and preferably until you have stopped breast feeding.

Will vomiting from morning sickness affect my teeth?

Vomiting coats your teeth with strong stomach acids which can lead to erosion of your tooth enamel if it occurs often enough. You can use a fluoride mouth rinse to help neutralise the acid a fluoride mouth rinse can be used, however where this is not available rinsing your mouth thoroughly with tap water will help. Delay brushing after vomiting for approximately 30 minutes if possible so that you avoid microabrasion of the tooth surface when softened by stomach acid.

If you do experience morning sickness and brushing your teeth leads to gagging, try using a smaller child’s toothbrush. This will help.

Can I have x-rays whilst pregnant?

If dental x-rays are necessary for assessment or diagnosis of infection or trauma, or for treatment of these conditions, there is no reason on radiation protection grounds, to defer them. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency recommend the use of a leaded drape when the x-ray beam is directed at the patient’s body. However, pending the circumstances your dentist may prefer to defer x-rays until after the pregnancy.

How do pregnancy hormones affect my teeth?

During pregnancy the blood supply to your gums and can change the way your gums react to the bacteria in plaque. Pregnancy gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) can occur, most likely during the second trimester, causing redness, bleeding and swelling of the gums. According to the University of Adelaide Research Unit, gingivitis affects up to 70% of pregnant women. Periodontitis is a more severe form of gingivitis, and teeth and gums may be left with permanent damage if not treated. Some studies have linked severe periodontitis with premature birth, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.

I have really strong food cravings, can my food consumption during pregnancy affect my teeth?

Unusual food cravings can be a part of pregnancy, as can be snacking on more food than you usually would. Our best advice is to maintain a nutritious diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean meats and calcium rich foods. Try and stick to healthy snacks – cut down on sticky and sugary snacks. Avoid caffeine, soft drinks, sports drinks and alcohol. Eat a piece of fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. Try and sip tap water throughout the day.

Stress less and use our easy pregnancy checklist:

  • See your Dentist early in your pregnancy to check your oral health and gain advice on how best to avoid or minimise pregnancy gingivitis
  • Inform your Dentist that you are pregnant before any treatment commences
  • If you suffer from morning sickness, avoid brushing your teeth straight after vomiting and use a fluoride mouth rinse
  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft brush
  • Maintain a nutritious diet throughout pregnancy, limiting unhealthy snacks and drinks
  • Drink plenty of tap water

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