Oral health during pregnancy

by Sameerah Karolia
Baby Yum Yum - Everything you need to know about your teeth and gums during pregnancy
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Pregnancy brings about many changes in your body, not least of which can be problems with your teeth and gums. This Oral Health Month, we’ve you covered from everything you need to know to how to combat it.

Sensitive teeth during pregnancy

A tingling or throbbing sensation in your teeth when you eat hot or cold foods, may be a sign of tooth sensitivity in pregnancy. This is caused by pregnancy hormones which increase the blood flow to the gums. It may come and go, or affect all your teeth or just one area of your mouth. Teeth grinding (caused by stress) can also lead to teeth sensitivity. This increased blood flow may also result in some gum bleeding.

Avoid trigger foods and toothpastes that contain many ingredients. There are many toothpastes designed specifically for sensitive teeth. Be careful if you use whitening toothpastes, as they contain chemicals that may actually cause sensitive teeth. Your dentist may be able to tell you if you grind your teeth and might suggest wearing a night mouth guard as a measure of prevention. When it comes to preventing bleeding gums, the best advice is to maintain a strict oral health routine.

Teeth discolouration during pregnancy

You may notice your teeth starting to change colour during pregnancy. This can be caused by medications such as iron supplements, Tetracycline (an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections and acne) and even mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine.

Try using an American Dental Association (ADA)-approved whitening toothpaste to combat teeth discoloration. Avoid foods and drinks such as coffee, tea and dark fruits that can further stain your teeth. Fruits and vegetables such as pears, carrots, apples and celery all act as natural teeth cleansers.

“A pea-sized amount of toothpaste contains only about 0.3 mg of fluoride and should be safe to use during pregnancy.”

Activated charcoal for teeth whitening
A new craze on social media has everyone turning to activated charcoal to get the perfect white smile. But is it safe to use while pregnant? It must be noted that “There is no evidence that shows that dental products with charcoal are safe or effective for your teeth”, according to the September 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

While many people boast amazing results after using activated charcoal on their teeth, some dentists do not encourage it. They believe that the grainy substance may actually damage the enamel on your teeth and could also have negative effects on the gums. While the use of activated charcoal won’t harm your unborn baby, it can harm your teeth, so it may be a good idea to use it with caution (pregnant or not).

Is fluoride safe during pregnancy?

Fluoride is a chemical compound frequently added to tap water and dental products (toothpaste and mouthwash). If it is used to strengthen the teeth and prevent tooth decay, why then would it be bad for you?

One study found that when high levels of fluoride are ingested, it has negative effects on reproduction. Another study suggests that children exposed to high levels of fluoride in utero may be less intelligent than those exposed to lower levels. While fluoride may be dangerous if ingested in large amounts, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste contains only about 0.3 mg of fluoride and should be safe to use during pregnancy. If you are still worried, have a chat with your gynae and dentist for peace of mind.

Oral health during pregnancy

You can take care of your dental health by doing the following:

  • For those who experience morning sickness, it is advised that you don’t brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes after vomiting. Stomach acids (from your vomit) can soften the teeth increasing your risk of tooth decay. By waiting, you give the enamel time to recover from the acid attack. Instead of brushing, rinse your mouth with water. Smearing some fluoride toothpaste on your teeth will also refresh your mouth and help strengthen enamel.
  • Use a small-headed, soft-bristled brush.
  • Your toothpaste should contain fluoride to help fight cavities.
  • Choose a toothpaste that is approved by the ADA ensuring it is safe and effective.
  • Avoid sugary items as sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth leading to cavities. If you do have sugary foods, brush your teeth afterwards.
  • Dental health during pregnancy is important to keep your appointments and let them know if you are in the early stages.
  • Increase your calcium intake during pregnancy to strengthen your teeth and bones.
  • Rinse your mouth with lukewarm salt water to heal wounds, fight bacteria and remove food particles.
  • A non-alcoholic, fluoride mouthwash is safe during pregnancy.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and don’t forget to floss.
  • Eat a diet high in Vitamin C to fight bacteria. These include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, lemons, litchis, papayas, strawberries and oranges. Foods high in vitamin A also fights gum disease. The following foods can be added to your diet: carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, melons, apricots, spinach, kale, and greens.
  • Stop smoking, as it can make gum disease worse.
  • Chew sugarless gum to keep your teeth clean.

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