Managing Pregnancy Symptoms That Can Make Dental Care More Difficult

23 November 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

Although it's generally safe to go for routine dental checkups, cleanings, and simple procedures like fillings during pregnancy, inform your dentist that you are pregnant. Unless you have a health condition that puts your pregnancy at high risk, dental treatment should not have to wait until after your baby is born. This is also a time when you may have questions for your dentist about dental care basics. It helps to know what pregnancy symptoms can interfere with taking proper care of your teeth and what you can do about them.

Why is morning sickness bad for your teeth?

Morning sickness is often a symptom of pregnancy that doesn't just strike when you first get up. Many women get sick throughout the day or night. If you vomit frequently, stomach acids can begin to erode tooth enamel, particularly the enamel on the inside of your front teeth.

While you may want to brush your teeth after throwing up, it's healthier for your teeth if you wait. Brushing immediately afterward exposes your tooth enamel to the damaging effects of the acids even more. To reduce the acid level and get rid of the bad taste in your mouth after vomiting, rinse your mouth with a mixture of baking soda and water. Use just a teaspoon of baking soda.

How does pregnancy increase your risk of tooth decay?

Being pregnant can make you more susceptible to tooth decay. In addition to an increased risk of tooth erosion caused by stomach acids in your mouth from vomiting, poor dietary habits can lead to dental caries. Cravings for processed foods, particularly sugary snacks and refined grains, aren't good for your teeth. Avoid simple carbs which are basically sugar and less nutritious than foods that are sources of complex carbohydrates.

Include food choices in your diet that provide a healthy dose of nutrients including calcium, phosphorus, protein, and vitamins A, C, and D. Foods high in calcium and phosphorus help protect tooth enamel. Vitamin D increases how much calcium and phosphate your body absorbs from the foods you eat. Foods high in protein are another source of the mineral phosphorus that can make your teeth stronger. Vitamins A and C contribute to healthy gums.

You should also avoid frequent snacking, as eating a constant stream of non-nutritious foods can make it more likely that you will get cavities. The more times you eat, the more often you expose your teeth to the acids and bacteria that can lead to tooth decay.

What can you do when pregnancy symptoms make tooth brushing difficult?

It's important to continue to brush and floss your teeth daily when your are pregnant, even if sore gums, vomiting, and a more sensitive gag reflex leave you less than enthusiastic. While these symptoms are normal during pregnancy, they can make routine dental care more difficult.

Brushing with an electric toothbrush may help minimize or even suppress the gag reflex, which can be worse in the morning or when you brush your back teeth. Choose a brush with a small brush head and set it to the slower speed.

It may also help to breathe through your nose and keep your lips closed as you brush. Start by brushing the outer surfaces of the bottom teeth first, moving the brush slowly.