Pregnancy is a beautiful stage in which our body goes through many physical and emotional changes, and our mouth can also undergo some changes that we must be aware of in order to maintain our health, and also that of our future baby.
In contrast, poor oral health during pregnancy has been associated with premature birth, intrauterine growth restriction, seasonal diabetes and pre-eclampsia, and has been shown to have effects on the foetus. Therefore, it is important to maintain and include in our daily routine good habits and to have more regular dental check-ups during pregnancy.
There is a belief that during pregnancy we will inevitably have oral problems and lose teeth. This belief is wrong, pregnancy itself does not cause tooth decay and the body does not absorb minerals. What is true is that the risk factors increase, so we must pay special attention to our mouth.
You must be vigilant during pregnancy:
Hormonal changes in pregnancy can lead to the appearance of gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, causing them to bleed, especially during brushing. This is due to the increase in the hormone progesterone, which causes the blood supply to increase and the tissue to become inflamed, which is why our gums look redder, swollen and sensitive. It also favours the increase of some bacteria that cause gingivitis.
INCREASED RISK OF CARIES
Pregnant women are more prone to tooth decay. Morning sickness, cravings and the change in eating habits increase the amount of acids in our mouth, which attack the enamel. In addition, because of the fear of treatment during pregnancy, these cavities can continue to grow during these months, causing pain, infection and even tooth loss.
But that fear is totally unfounded, and it is highly recommended to treat tooth decay as early as possible, even during pregnancy. Studies show that your baby will be more prone to childhood caries if you don't remove your own before birth, as the mother passes these bacteria on to the baby during nurturing, for example when we taste food.
All of the above can be prevented by proper hygiene and regular check-ups, but you may be wondering: What does good hygiene consist of?
Brushing becomes more complicated at this stage due to the nausea that comes with pregnancy, and we are also more sleepy and sometimes we fall asleep and forget. But as we have already mentioned, hygiene is fundamental, and we must maintain the routine of brushing after every meal, at least twice a day, with nighttime brushing being the most important. It is advisable to use a medium-hard or soft brush if you have sensitive gums, and remember that cleaning without flossing is not complete.
Another frequently asked question is can I have a cleaning? Not only can you, but they should be done more often than usual. Since oral bacteria increase, more tartar is formed and the diseases mentioned above worsen. It is also a good time to have regular follow-up check-ups with your dentist to make sure everything is going well.
Apart from hygiene, there are other habits that we should also take care of, here are some tips:
- Snacking between meals. Try to keep healthy snacks close by to avoid the temptation of sweets or industrially packaged foods. For example, nuts, fresh or dried fruits are a great option and will keep you satiated for longer.
- Good food. A very good option is to finish meals with a piece of pasteurised cheese, as studies have shown that it helps to restore and regulate the pH of the mouth more quickly. Avoiding ultra-processed foods loaded with sugars and refined flours, choosing wholemeal breads and pasta and replacing simple sugars with natural sweeteners such as dates or ripe bananas will help control those acids in your mouth.
- Toothpaste. If nausea is one of your symptoms, I recommend using toothpastes without detergents that form "foam", such as gel toothpastes. In addition, brushing can be complemented with other products or instruments, which your dentist or oral hygienist can advise you on.
Pregnancy is a crucial period in a woman's life and maintaining good oral health is directly related to good general health. Between visits to the doctor, trips to the hospital and preparing the nursery, don't let visits to the dentist fall off the to-do list before the big day. And remember, you're not only taking care of you and your mouth, you're taking care of your baby's too.