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Oral health during pregnancy

Date: 12 November 2018 Category: ,

Oral health during pregnancy

When you find out you’re expecting a baby, amongst the excitement, fear, shock and all the other emotions that go along with it; the last thing you probably think about is how or why your teeth and gums need extra attention. Erin Fields, Patient Care Coordinator at Centre for Dentistry, Wakefield looks into why it’s especially important for expectant mums to look after their oral health.

As you may already know, when you are pregnant, your body goes through a major series of physiological changes and your teeth do not escape these changes either! With the increase of oestrogen and progesterone (pregnancy hormones), the blood supply to your gums increases, which may cause increased bleeding and swelling of the gums and bacteria becoming more likely.

Gum disease and pregnancy

There is research that links periodontal disease (gum disease) with adverse pregnancy outcomes, particularly preterm birth, low birth weight and pre-eclampsia. Despite the known link, the evidence on whether or not having periodontal treatment in pregnancy is effective in reducing these risks is inconclusive. The current understanding is that periodontal treatment prior to conception may be more effective in reducing the risk of adverse outcomes, but periodontal treatment should not be delayed due to pregnancy, with the ideal time being between 14-20 weeks gestation.

Morning sickness

A major issue that 70-80% of women face is the dreaded ‘morning sickness’. I know with both of my pregnancies the last thing I fancied doing while suffering not so silently, was brushing my teeth. However, good oral hygiene is especially important if you are finding yourself with the majority of women who experience nausea or vomiting, as the acid can erode your teeth. There is a lot of advice on ways to manage oral hygiene when you are suffering. If you are vomiting, it is especially important to rinse afterwards to help remove acid from your teeth.

Pregnancy Sickness Support UK suggests trying to brush your back teeth first to delay the taste of tooth paste hitting your taste buds. Sensitive toothpaste seems to have a more mild flavour than the usual adult toothpastes, so if the intensity of flavour is contributing to morning sickness, it might be worth trying out a sensitive paste. Some women find that the vibrations from an electric toothbrush can also trigger nausea, so it is suggested it may be worthwhile experimenting with manual and electric toothbrushes to find what works for you. I only wish that I had known about this website when I was pregnant, as it offers a plethora of information, not only regarding oral hygiene with morning sickness, but regarding all aspects of living with sickness whilst pregnant.

If you are interested in finding more information or research surrounding oral hygiene in pregnancy, the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) which includes the British Society of Periodontology is a great source and where I gathered my information from for this blog. They have also partnered with Oral B for an oral health and pregnancy project, including easy to read/pictorial information, research and guidelines for dental professionals, health care practitioners and women.

Although, I now work in a dental practice, pregnancy and the postnatal period remain a passion of mine, as I trained and worked as a midwife in my home country of New Zealand before moving to the UK. I have merged my passions and love looking at research around oral health in pregnancy and infancy.

If you’d like any more help or advice, please contact the practice directly on 01924 638002. You can book an appointment with one of our dentists over the phone as well or book online. We have 24 private practices across the country offering late night and Saturday appointments.