How does pregnancy affect my teeth?

To kick start a happy healthy 2016 year The Smile Team Balwyn North dentists will be posting answers to some of the most common questions we get.  Our first question leads to a topic that relates to a very exciting stage of life for many of our patients albeit sometimes a nervous time.

On top of the other hundreds of changes expectant mothers discover along the journey, pregnancy can have a range of implications on dental health. You’ve probably heard the old wives tale of “Gain a child, lose a tooth”.  This doesn’t have to be true, but there is some element of truth to the statement.

In what ways does pregnancy affect my teeth?

Morning sickness can cause vomiting which exposes our teeth to very strong stomach acids that can easily lead to teeth wear, decay and sensitivity.  Stomach acid has a pH of about 2, sometimes lower.  This puts it around the same acidity of pure lemon juice.  Many patients want to brush their teeth after vomiting, but this can actually scrub away more tooth structure.  What happens is that brushing straight after vomiting in this acidic environment can scrub off more enamel.  It’s actually best to rinse with a fluoride mouth rinse, or just some toothpaste.

Pregnancy can also trigger food cravings especially sweet snacks that can alter our decay risk. The increased frequency of acid and sugar exposed to the teeth is detrimental to the health of the teeth.  Practicing excellent oral care at home with regular flossing and thorough brushing can help to minimize decay changes on the teeth.

Does pregnancy cause gum disease?

During pregnancy hormone levels are increased which makes the gums more sensitive to plaque bacteria and increases the likelihood of gum inflammation with disease. This can be noticed through bleeding with tenderness upon brushing and flossing. Other signs include bad breath, redness puffy gums, pain on eating, loosening of the teeth.

There have been quite a few studies that have shown a link between bad gum disease during pregnancy and premature births. A thorough gum disease assessment is always a good idea for expectant mothers.

When is it safe to have dental treatment during pregnancy?

At The Smile Team, we recommend that all patients who are planning to get pregnant to have a comprehensive examination with our experienced dental team. A thorough assessment will provide reassurance ahead of pregnancy to assess your teeth for any potential risk factors.
Digital radiograph x-rays that are taken at The Smile Team are very safe (less than the radiation exposure on a Melbourne to Sydney flight), The Smile Team dentists practice an ‘As Little As Possible’ approach with every patient and will only take them for expectant mothers and during pregnancy if absolutely required.

If dental treatment is required it’s best to plan the dental treatment for the 2nd Trimester, but this depends on the type of problem.  Dental hygiene cleans are safe and important to carry out.  Dental diseases with symptoms or dental diseases without symptoms but are at risk of flaring up are best treated promptly.

After giving birth it’s also important to return for a dental examination and hygiene clean.  The Smile Team Balwyn North dentists can assess the changes that have taken place and help patients to reverse signs of dental disease.  This provides an opportunity to steady early decay so it doesn’t progress onto a cavity requiring decay removal, gum disease can also be reversed to an extent if acted upon well.

The Smile Team understand the importance of dental health on pregnancy and vice versa.  Our highly trained professional dental team will be happy to discuss with you any questions or personal preferences.

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