Bleeding gums, moving teeth and other oral health pregnancy surprises
Your teeth, gums and overall oral health might not be the first things to spring to mind when you find out you’re with child. But they’re super important (always) but especially during pregnancy.
Dr Lewis Ehrlich, Holistic Dentist, has hit us with the need-to-knows for oral health, teeth and gums during pregnancy.
What does your mouth have to do with your pregnancy?
Dental checks might be something you'd think you could let slip if you find out you're pregnant. Between the six thousand other medical appointments you have to attend, who cares about your teeth if you know you keep them clean? But oh no, those pregnancy hormones (extra estrogen and progesterone to be exact) throw spanners into the works everywhere in your body – including your mouth.
As Dr Ehrlich explains, your oral health shouldn’t just be remembered during your pregnancy, it should actually be a priority.
“When you are pregnant there are significant hormonal changes that can leave pregnant women susceptible to gum inflammation (bleeding gums),” explains Dr Ehrlich. “Similarly, if there is gum disease during pregnancy, this can result in premature births and low birth weights. There is also a risk of tooth decay as oral hygiene can fall by the wayside due to a stronger gag reflex during pregnancy which makes putting a toothbrush into the mouth difficult. It is also important to remember that if you are pregnant it is important to look after your health and keep your immune system strong as your child’s teeth start to form in utero and so if there is an illness during pregnancy, this can affect the quality of your child’s teeth later in life.”
Yep, so turns out your mouth has a LOT to do with pregnancy.
“Some of the most obvious hormone related oral alterations occur during pregnancy. Pregnancy gingivitis is very common with a range between 30-100% of all pregnant women experiencing this form of gingivitis (depending on the study). Cases can range from minor inflammation to severe gum overgrowth (gingival hyperplasia), pain and bleeding,” says Dr Ehrlich. “Gum inflammatory changes usually begin during the second month of pregnancy and the severity increases through the rest of the pregnancy until there is an abrupt decrease in sex hormone secretion.”
Yes, really. Your teeth can move. “It is possible to get increased tooth mobility (a sensation of ‘loose’ teeth during pregnancy. However, this is more often than not, temporary and is due to hormonal changes. However, teeth can also become loose and ‘move’ if there is advanced gum disease which is also a risk for premature births and low birthweight. This must be ruled out via an accurate diagnosis.”
Tooth decay and erosion
“After pregnancy, it is important to look after your teeth and gums. The hormonal changes and potential sickness throughout can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Thus, it is important to stay on top of your oral health,” says Dr Ehrlich. “Avoidance is best avoided!”
Looking after your oral health during pregnancy
So the best way to keep your oral health, gums and teeth in tip-top shape? “Eat natural, healthy foods high in fat-soluble vitamins, brush and floss every day, visit your dentist or hygienist for regular check-ups and cleans, keep your water intake high, and avoid foods and beverages that are highly processed and high in refined sugars,” Dr Ehrlich says.
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