How do I care for teeth during pregnancy?

Being pregnant comes with many responsibilities—and the way you care for your teeth is no exception. For most women, routine dental visits are safe during pregnancy, but let your dental office know what month you are in when you make your appointment. If yours is a high-risk pregnancy or you have some other medical condition, your dentist and your physician may recommend that treatment be postponed. Be sure to let your dentist know if there is any change in the medications you take or if you have received any special advice from your physician. The benefits of receiving dental care during pregnancy far outweigh potential risks. Be sure to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your mouth such as swelling, redness or bleeding.

It’s important for you to take good care of your teeth and gums while pregnant. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase the risk of developing gum disease which, in turn, can affect the health of your developing baby

5 tips for maintaining a healthy mouth during pregnancy

  • Brush thoroughly with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
  • Floss between your teeth daily.
  • If you have a midnight snack, brush your teeth again to reduce the chance of cavities..
  • Visit your dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and check-up.
  • If you need help controlling plaque, your dentist may recommend rinsing at night with an antimicrobial mouth rinse.

For healthy teeth and gums during pregnancy, you should also

  • Drink plenty of tap water.The fluoride in tap water strengthens the teeth and helps to prevent decay — and neither fluoride in water nor in toothpaste will harm a developing baby. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you have any concerns.
  • Avoid sugar drinks and snacks. Avoid sugary snacks. Sweet cravings are common during pregnancy. However, keep in mind that the more frequently you snack, the greater the chance of developing toothdecay.
  • Eat a wide variety of healthy foods. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your baby’s first teeth begin to develop about three months into pregnancy. Healthy diets containing dairy products, cheese, and yogurt are a good source of these essential minerals and are good for baby’s developing teeth, gums, and bones.
  • Eat at least 4 serves of calcium-rich food, such as milk and milk products. Calcium is very important for your baby’s teeth and bones. A 250mL glass of milk is one serve.

Dealing with food cravings and morning sickness

You may get morning sickness leading to vomiting, or gastric reflux (heartburn). In both of these conditions, the stomach contents are acidic and can coat the teeth when you vomit or have reflux. This acid can cause dental erosion and increase the risk of tooth decay by dissolving tooth enamel.

In case of morning sickness

  • The stomach acid is really damaging to your enamel. Don’t brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes after vomiting or reflux. This will give the enamel time to recover from the acid attack. Rather wait and brush your teeth at your normal times.
  • If you vomit and you want to wash out your mouth, use baking soda and water, as this won’t damage the enamel. It will also help get rid of the taste of vomit. Also, drinking a combination of baking soda and water can help ease the nausea.If you don’t like the taste of baking soda, you can also use mouthwash.
  • You can  smear some fluoride toothpaste on your teeth to refresh your mouth and help strengthen enamel.
  • Sometimes morning sickness can cause taste sensitivity during pregnancy. If you find yourself being sensitive to your normal toothpaste, try a blander one. Ask your dentist for recommendations for the best bland toothpastes during pregnancy.
  • Using a tongue cleaner will help your mouth feel cleaner and will help remove acid from your mouth. If you have a particularly sensitive gag reflex, you may want to wait until the nausea subsides before scraping the back of your tongue.

You may also have cravings for foods that can affect your teeth, such as sugary or acidic snacks and drinks (such as orange or other fruit juice), which increase the risk of tooth decay and erosion. To avoid these effects on your teeth:

  • Choose a wide variety of snacks that are low in sugar, fat and salt, and high in fibre.
  • Drink tap water.
  • Rinse your mouth with tap water between meals.

Some simple dental procedures that can be done during pregnancy

  • Routine check up for cavities and gum conditions.
  • Simple scaling and cleaning procedures.
  • Cavity fillings. RCT procedures in case of severe tooth pain, when heavy medications cannot be prescribed. Your endodontist will be able to guide you on the procedure.
  • Dental X-rays can be done during pregnancy. Your dentist will use extreme caution to safeguard you and your baby, such as shielding your abdomen and thyroid.  Advances in technology have made X-rays much safer today than in past decades.