Pregnancy & Oral Health - Tips from a Dental Hygienist!
Written by Felicia Tisi from Kawana Dental
There is just about nothing worse than a toothache, especially during pregnancy when pain relief is limited! We interviewed Oral Hygienist, Felicia, from Kawana Dental to ask for her top tips and tricks for keeping up with optimal oral hygiene throughout pregnancy. Here is what she had to say:
Our health greatly impacts our unborn child’s health and this includes our gum health.
Prior to conception, it is important to go into your pregnancy with optimal oral hygiene to reduce the risk of requiring work while pregnant. Once you’ve decided to try and conceive, get a full dental clearance and cleaning. Why? The bacteria that reside in our mouth below our gum line contribute not only to our gum health throughout our pregnancy but to the support structures of our teeth. If we allow gum disease to progress to a disease called Periodontitis (a disease of the support structures of our teeth) it can increase the risk of premature delivery, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
Are my gums swollen? Signs and symptoms
Healthy gums look flat knife edge and are pale pink in colour. You can determine if your gums are in a state of disease if they are raised and shiny, rolled, red and if they bleed.
Swollen gums, but why?
An increased inflammatory response to dental plaque/tartar causes our gums to bleed more easily. The bacteria may be long-standing or new but our response to it is heightened due to our lowered immunity and susceptibility to swelling during pregnancy.
What you can do!
Get regular dental cleanings throughout your pregnancy. If you have avoided dental care prior to your pregnancy, it is important that this is mediated right away with a proper examination and, in some cases, frequent cleanings (sometimes this could be required every 3 months to stay on top of things).
Make sure to brush twice a day gently but thoroughly, floss deep within the pocket being gentle, going along each side of the tooth. Use warm salt water rinse (about a teaspoon of salt to half a cup of water) for 1 minute a night.
During pregnancy a hormone called relaxin causes temporary loosening of the ligaments that support the teeth in the bone. There normally is no risk of tooth loss unless there are other complications at play.
Reflux is a common pregnancy related health concern. A combination of factors causes the acids in our stomach to rise into the mouth. This can cause erosion to our enamel, an increase in dental sensitivity and permanent tooth damage. There are both natural and medical treatment strategies to manage reflux throughout pregnancy. If you are experiencing reflux, it is best to speak with a health professional and find out what strategies are best tailored to you.
- See your dentist before, or early in the pregnancy to get your teeth and gums checked
- Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft brush
- Floss daily
- Spit, don’t rinse, after brushing
- Quit smoking
- Have a healthy diet and avoid soft drinks and sugary sticky snacks
- Drink fluoridated tap water and limit caffeine
- After vomiting, rinse your mouth with water but delay brushing for at least 30 minutes to allow the mouth to become neutralised again.