Gum health in pregnancy

When you’re pregnant there are a lot of advice given from your midwives such as no alcohol and no smoking, eating certain foods and taking vitamins. Gum health is also really important when it comes to pregnancy as you’re at heightened risk of gingivitis and cavities due to stomach acids from ‘morning sickness’ and the increased plaque levels.

Eating

During pregnancy you’re likely to snack more often and have those sugary cravings. This then can result in a higher risk of cavities as you’re having more ‘sugar attacks’. Making sure you’re brushing and flossing twice daily is very important. Eating good, healthy balanced foods are important for oral care but also ensures you are getting plenty of calcium, phosphorous, protein, vitamins which are important during pregnancy. Sometimes we need to give in to the sweet cravings but try to stick to having these at mealtimes so that you’re having a sugar attack less frequently, plus often the foods you have in your meals can make the acids from the sugar neutralise, such as milk and cheeses are really good for this.

Hormonal changes

When pregnant you have increased progesterone hormone levels which causes a stronger reaction to plaque than normal. You may have red and puffy gums when pregnant, which are more likely to bleed. Try using a soft brush to ease the sensitivity when brushing and stick to soft interdental brushes.

Dental appointments

It is really important to visit the dentist when you’re pregnant as they need to check that your mouth is healthy, as pregnant women have an increased chance of periodontal disease. This way the dentist can catch any early signs of decay or gingivitis, whilst also giving you as much advice as possible to guide you through your pregnancy journey.

There is a 50 to 70% chance of experiencing ‘pregnancy gingivitis’. There are a few tips to help with this which include;

  • Using an electric toothbrush, you can buy soft brush heads for these. When brushing your teeth for the recommended 2 minutes with a manual toothbrush, it can deliver 300 brush strokes compared to an electric toothbrush which is around 3,000 brush strokes, so it is a lot more efficient, covering the tooth surface reducing the amount of plaque on your teeth.

 

  • Interdental cleaning- This is so important whether you are pregnant or not, your dentist or hygiene therapist can check which size fits best for you; whether it be floss or brushes. It reduces the amount of plaque, and your gums become healthier the more you use them. You only cover 60% of tooth surface with a toothbrush so it is very important to use something in between the teeth.

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness can be a part of pregnancy for many women, and isn’t always experienced in the morning; the nausea and sickness can occur anytime of the day. Carrying some extra things with you to be prepared is always a good idea! A bottle of water, a toothbrush and toothpaste, some mouthwash, mints, and wet wipes are all beneficial.

After sickness try to use water to rinse your mouth and wait an hour to brush your teeth with toothpaste; this is because when you are sick you can cover your teeth with strong stomach acids, after an hour your teeth have gone back to the ‘sitting’ PH level which is 5.5, at this point brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste.

Tips for brushing your teeth to help you from retching.

  • Use a smaller toothbrush.
  • Be slower, don’t rush.
  • Try listening to music or close your eyes and concentrate on something else.
  • Use a different toothpaste, you can purchase different flavours.

Enjoy your pregnancy journey and don’t forget to attend your regular dental visits!

To book an appointment at Kingswood Parks Clinics or for more advice please call the practice on 01482 440084.

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