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Pregnancy and Oral Health - By Erin Page

27th July 2021

If you are pregnant or planning on conceiving in the future, there is usually a checklist of ‘to do’s’ before bub is born. One thing that parents often forget about is their teeth! With poor oral hygiene, gum disease, and active decay linked to low birth weight and pre-term labour, it is important women take extra care of their teeth during pregnancy to give baby the best start at life. At Absolutely Dental, we are passionate about educating expecting mums (and dads), so don’t wait until bub is born for us to meet them. Come in for a check-up with one of our friendly faces so we can answer all of your questions about pregnancy and oral health.

Throughout pregnancy, increased hormones can cause changes to the way women’s bodies respond to plaque and bacteria in the mouth. About one-third of expecting women suffer pregnancy gingivitis or increased progression in existing periodontal disease, which is caused by the body becoming more sensitive to the existing plaque in the mouth. Sore, swollen and bleeding gums can be a burden during pregnancy, so meticulous home care including brushing with an extra soft or electric toothbrush, flossing as well as a professional dental clean (or two) will help.

It is an old wives tale that decay increases with pregnancy. It is more likely that frequent snacking, as well as reflux and vomiting due to morning sickness, is more likely to contribute to higher rates of decay and enamel erosion after pregnancy. Sticking to healthy, low sugar, and high fibre snacks during pregnancy will help with both oral and general health and help prevent decay. During morning sickness periods, even though the immediate response to most people is to clean their teeth vigorously, it’s not the best option when it comes to your tooth enamel. Erosion from gastric acid tends to soften tooth enamel for up to 30mins after vomiting, and vigorous brushing is similar to using a kitchen scourer on a Teflon pan causing microscopic scratches slowly wearing away tooth enamel. Rinsing with bicarbonate water (2 teaspoons of bicarb soda in a glass of water) after vomiting or eating buffering foods such as a cube of cheese or nuts can aid in neutralising acidic saliva. These foods may help protect tooth enamel by counteracting acidity or by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth after an acid attack.

Tooth decay is the most significant preventable disease amongst young babies and children. And while tooth decay is heavily effected by diet and brushing habits, most parents aren’t aware that bacteria including those which cause tooth decay is introduced to babies through transferring saliva via kissing and feeding after birth. Parents and caregivers with active tooth decay transmit the bacteria to their babies, making them more susceptible to decay in their early years of life. This is one of the reasons why one child can have quite poor brushing habits and remain decay-free while others seem to have rampant decay as soon as they have teeth erupt into their mouth at 6-8 months of age. It is recommended all parents and caregivers become ‘decay-free’ before bub is born to give them the best chance for a happy, healthy mouth.

One last thing, if you do find yourself in toothache during pregnancy its best to visit your local dental professional for treatment as soon as the problem arises. Depending on this issue, it used to be recommended to wait to address any issues until the 2nd trimester, however, with the progression of medicine and dentistry it is now recommended that toothache be treated immediately so don’t be afraid to reach out to the Absolutely Dental team when in need.

Even though I love educating my patients through a blog we know that every child, every mum and every pregnancy is different so we would love to meet you one on one to better chat about your individual needs.

Happy brushing and flossing,


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