During and after pregnancy a woman experiences many unexpected changes. These changes also include the mouth and oral health. It is essential to take care of your mouth and gums as changes in hormone levels drastically affect oral health. Changes to the mouth during pregnancy include gum disease, dry mouth, enamel erosion and decay. Routine home care and more frequent dental visits will lower the risk of these conditions.
Hormones have an important role during pregnancy. These increased hormone levels can affect your gums. This increase in hormone levels causes an exaggerated response to the bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria will harbour in hard to reach areas under your gums or along the gumline. This presence of bacteria can cause gum disease or pregnancy gingivitis. Signs of pregnancy gingivitis include red, swollen, irritated or bleeding gums. The gums may become more sensitive with this increase in progesterone and estrogen. During pregnancy, teeth and gums need special attention with a good home care routine and more frequent dental cleanings
During pregnancy teeth and gums need special attention. Visit your oral health professional early in the pregnancy for a cleaning and an exam to have your teeth and gums checked. A thorough cleaning of your teeth and gums twice a day can prevent pregnancy gingivitis.
– Brushing with a manual toothbrush, angle bristles 45 degrees toward the gum line and brush away from the gums using a rolling stroke. Continue the strokes moving slowly along the outside and inside of all the teeth for 2 minutes. Remember also to brush the gums and tongue to remove all of the bacteria.
– When using an electric toothbrush make sure to follow the manufactures directions. Don’t forget to brush the gums and tongue!
– Floss one time daily by wrapping the floss around your middle fingers. Using thumb and forefinger glide floss between the teeth. Curve the floss around each tooth and slide it up and down in a “C” shape.
– A dental hygienist may recommend additional aids. Anti-bacterial or Fluoride rinses may be recommended for those with gum disease and increase risk of decay. Other aids may be recommended to remove the bacteria from the teeth properly. In some cases of pregnancy gingivitis, gum stimulation tools may be recommended.
During pregnancy, your body stores water, this can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth can lead to discomfort and increased risk of decay. With a decreased saliva flow your mouth isn’t able to cleanse, neutralize or provide minerals to the teeth. It is essential to maintain a good oral care routine and have regular dental visits. A good oral care routine and additional aids to increase saliva flow may be recommended. Drink enough water during pregnancy to prevent dry mouth.
Many women experience morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy. This acid production in the stomach causes acid erosion in the mouth. The acidic environment damages the enamel and can cause sensitivity and tooth decay. Heartburn and acid reflux cause this same effect on the teeth. Decay can also happen due to more frequent meals and cravings. Depending on the food choices at these times, there may be an increased risk for cavities.
After vomiting, it is important to rinse the mouth. This can be done with water, a recommended fluoride rinse or even baking soda and water. Baking soda helps to balance the acidic environment. It is important to wait 30 minutes before brushing the teeth as they may soften in this acidic environment. Additional fluoride treatments may be recommended by your dental professional.
In some cases, large growths may occur on the gums due to this increased hormone level. These are called pregnancy tumours and appear very swollen, red, mushroom-like and may grow. Your dental professional can make recommendations on how to manage the pregnancy tumour. Most cases of pregnancy tumours resolve themselves.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us today.