You may be aware that hormonal changes during pregnancy can temporarily loosen ligaments and affect your joints, but did you know pregnancy hormones can also affect your gums and teeth? Not all pregnant women will experience noticeable changes in their oral health, but being aware of some of the common oral health problems you may experience can ensure you know when to seek treatment. Here are a few oral health problems to look out for during pregnancy.
Vomiting associated with morning sickness and gastric reflux later in your pregnancy can cause significant damage to your tooth enamel. When stomach acid coats your teeth, the enamel can erode, particularly if you brush your teeth right after being sick, as you are effectively brushing acid onto your teeth, and this can cause the enamel to become scratched. Enamel erosion can leave your teeth susceptible to decay and can allow bacteria to enter the soft pulp of a tooth and cause infection to take hold. Your dentist can provide advice on how and when to clean your teeth after vomiting and can apply a dental sealant or fluoride varnish to your teeth to protect the enamel.
During pregnancy, your gums can be susceptible to inflammation, thanks to those pregnancy hormones surging through your body. Inflamed gums may bleed when you brush your teeth, which doesn't sound too serious, but this type of damage to the delicate tissues of your gums can lead to a bacterial infection taking hold. Gum infections can spread into the roots of your teeth and into your jaw bone and surrounding tissues, and this can lead to tooth loss. So, if your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, schedule a dental check-up to have your gum health assessed.
Cavities are quite common during pregnancy due to a number of factors including enamel erosion and increased plaque formation, which can occur as a result of dietary changes. You may find you crave more sugary or starchy foods during pregnancy, and an increase in these types of food can impact on your dental health. Foods high in refined carbohydrates and sugar can accelerate plaque formation on your teeth and provide a food source for bacteria, which increase the likelihood of a cavity forming. Signs of a cavity include tooth sensitivity, tooth pain and localised swelling. Dental fillings can be carried out during pregnancy, so if you notice a build-up of plaque or think you may have a cavity, have your teeth examined.
You may have some concerns about undergoing dental treatment during pregnancy, but many dental procedures are considered safe. Not having treatment when you need it could lead to more serious damage to your oral health. Your dentist will be happy to discuss any concerns you have before accessing treatment.