Pregnancy and oral health prevention

How is my mouth going to change during my pregnancy?

Gum modifications

Pregnancy hormones can exacerbate the gum’s reaction in presence of plaque.  This in turn increases the risk of developing gingivitis (inflammation of the gum), characterised red swollen gums, spontaneous or minor bleeds during brushing.

It is also possible to see appear an “epulis” which is a small lump form the gum which develops between two teeth. It is benign and is usually reabsorbed spontaneously post-delivery.
Nevertheless, if it was to become too large or causes inconvenience when eating, do not hesitate to contact your dental surgeon.

La grossesse

What risks for my teeth?

Certain pregnancy issues can have an impact on the health of your teeth.

Acidity: During your pregnancy, you may be subject to nausea and vomiting, usually during the first trimester, then acid reflux (when baby gets bigger and presses on your stomach). The acid that your teeth are swimming will weaken them, as it will dissolve the surface, they may become more sensitive to hot and cold.

If your vomiting and/or acid reflux are very frequent, dental erosion can appear (irreversible thinning of the enamel).

Modification of eating habits: It is not uncommon to modify your eating habits during pregnancy, either because nausea hinders you from eating in large quantities, which forces you to eat small frequent meals all throughout the day or because you have overriding cravings! Grazing is dangerous for your teeth especially if the food is sweet or acid. You are more at risk of tooth decay and or cavities.

Cleaning/brushing difficulties: Nausea can stop you from being able to brush your teeth correctly (especially towards the molars, because even with the best intentions your tooth brush causes you to heave!). Plaque is not completely eliminated which increases the risk of gingivitis and cavities. This inflammation of the gum makes brushing painful. A real viscous circle!

Excessive salivation: During pregnancy you may notice that you have a lot more saliva than usual.

Can my oral health mouth affect the health of my baby?

Studies have shown that periodontal disease has been linked to premature birth. Therefore ideally it is best to get tested and treat the periodontitis prior to getting pregnant. If the diagnosis is made during the pregnancy, a close check will be offered by your gynaecologist.

What can be done for prevention?

If you are planning for a baby, ideally is to go for a check-up to your dentist before your pregnancy in order to pick up any issues and treat them. Favour a balanced diet, avoiding sweet and acid food. Try and avoid grazing.

Brush your teeth at least twice a day, ideally after each food intake, which a soft brush, massaging your gums gently. Use a fluoride based toothbrush to protect your enamel. In case of nausea, some tips exist to help you to brush your teeth efficiently such as using a brush with a small head or neutral taste toothpaste.

If you suffer from vomiting or reflux, do not immediately brush your teeth. At this point the surface of your teeth is fragile, brushing would be too aggressive. Ideally you should rinse your mouth with a fluoride based mouthwash or at least with water. Your saliva will then contribute to the reduction of acidity and encourage the remineralisation of your teeth.

Can I go to the dentist whilst I am pregnant?

Yes, you can go to your dentist in all confidence, it is highly recommended. If you have not had a check-up before your pregnancy, ideally you should as soon as you find out you are pregnant.

If no dental issues have been picked-up, a good scale and polish is recommended to help you maintain a healthy mouth during your pregnancy.

Dental treatment is possible during pregnancy. The ideal period is between the 4th and 8th month. Your dentist will be able to do a local anaesthetic or x-ray (protecting your belly with a special shield) without risk to your baby, in order to treat any infection or other dental disease (cavities, tooth ache…). If medication needs to be prescribed, your dental surgeon will ensure there is not risk to your baby. More complex treatments such as implants will be performed after the birth.