What happens to our teeth during pregnancy?
If this blog has caught your attention, it is likely that you (or someone you know) has recently fallen pregnant. You are probably in the midst of delight and elation for your new arrival while riding the rollercoaster of fluctuating hormones. There’s so much to do and so much to plan for, to welcome your new bundle of joy while battling the bouts of morning sickness and mood swings.
Pregnancy is truly a natural wonder and can offer a full 280 days of surprises before the baby even arrives! You have been well advised on what to expect, while you are expecting. You are pondering the ideas of gender reveals, nursery colour schemes and baby shower get-togethers and are baffled by the bizarre food cravings that overtake your thoughts. Growing a human is a mindblowing, momentous occasion, during which some weird and wonderful revelations occur within our bodies.
There is a wealth of information available, both anecdotal and factual that describe the changes that can be expected during the trimesters of pregnancy. Much of this revolves around our emotional and physical well-being. But has anyone mentioned to you that your teeth and gums are also about to present you with symptoms that you would not believe are associated with the creation of life? It’s true. It is very common among dentists to treat pregnant patients that simply assume a recent tooth complaint was bad timing rather than incidental to their ‘condition.’
On that basis, we thought it might be enlightening to run through some of the recurrent themes that we see occurring to teeth during pregnancy.
Can I lose my teeth during pregnancy?
There is an old wives dating back hundreds of years in which it claims ‘you can gain a child but lose a tooth.’ Whilst this phrase was coined in times when oral health was pretty shoddy anyway, there is scientific evidence to suggest that gestational hormonal changes can impact on our teeth during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, the body is producing increased levels of progesterone, which can rise to up to 10 times higher than normal. This increase in hormone levels can cause pregnant women to be at risk to certain bacteria, especially that which is carried in dental plaque. As a result, pregnant women are more susceptible to gum disease and ‘pregnancy gingivitis’ is a very common condition. We are often met with women during their pregnancy complaining of red, swollen and bleeding gums which if not caught early can lead to gum erosion and tooth loss.
It might seem a strange association; pregnancy and gum disease, but Stacey Solomon, singer and TV presenter reported that during her second pregnancy she was ‘she was seeing her dentist more than her midwife.’ As the plaque takes hold and the body is less able to battle against it, you may find that your teeth start to discolour, cavities start to form and a decline in general oral health occurs.
Whilst this might sound dramatic on top of everything else you need to worry about when carrying a baby, it is all very manageable as long as you maintain good contact with your dentist throughout this important time. Just bear in mind that you may notice some unusual signs from your teeth during pregnancy.
Why do I have sensitive teeth during pregnancy?
Another problem often reported with teeth during pregnancy is heightened sensitivity. This could be attributed to the aforementioned point of an increase in risk in plaque, tartar and gum health, but the change in the balance of oestrogen and progesterone hormones can affect the supply of blood to the gum tissues which can make them feel more sensitive. It’s unfortunate that pregnancy hormones play havoc with the health of our teeth and gums.
Alternatively, sensitivity in the teeth during pregnancy can also be attributed to morning sickness. If it wasn’t bad enough feeling rotten for weeks, even months on end with an uncontrollable desire to vomit at any given moment along comes another problem. If you are vomiting repeatedly over a steady period of time, your teeth will be subjected to high levels of stomach acid. This acid can have a damaging effect on the enamel of the teeth. As you can imagine, teeth do not react well under the attack of acid. You may notice that they begin to take on a yellow tinge and there is a danger that cavities and decay set in.
No doubt, your immediate reaction to the morning vomit session is to grab the toothbrush and scrub in an attempt to rid your mouth of this foul taste, smell and sensation. This can actually cause further damage since the enamel is at its weakest when hit by the acid. It is better to rinse with water or an alcohol-free mouthwash and wait an hour before brushing.
How should I take care of my teeth during pregnancy?
It probably seems as though there are a million and one health checks to consider during pregnancy and yes, your teeth should be high up on that list. Your oral healthcare should form part of your prenatal health checks.
- Do not shy away from dentist appointments during your pregnancy. They are more important than ever
- Tell your dentist if you are pregnant or planning to fall pregnant so a suitable health plan can be put in place
- Be aware of the changes happening in your mouth. This can include dryness, change of taste, bad breath, excessive saliva, sensitivity, aches, pains, soreness and swelling
- Limit sugary food and drinks. You already have enough problems with plaque on your hands with the hormones
- As always, brush twice a day and floss once a day
- Book a professional clean with your dentist or hygienist to keep plaque at bay
- Be kind to your teeth during pregnancy. They are having a difficult time!
Whilst pregnancy is one of life’s miracles, it also makes your teeth and gums more vulnerable to the onset of plaque, dental infections and sensitivity. To avoid needing costly restorative dental treatment postpartum when you already have your hands full make sure you are regular contact with your dentist.
At Banning Dental Group, we understand how vulnerable your teeth during pregnancy are and we will make sure they are in their best shape for the arrival of your new baby.