During pregnancy, differing levels of hormones in the body can place you more at risk of developing gum disease.
The way to avoid this potential problem is to brush your teeth and gums, using a soft toothbrush gently, and thoroughly both morning and night. Dental floss should also be used to clean between the teeth. If gums become red and sore and start to bleed, it's vital to continue the brushing technique or the condition will become worse.
It is important that you visit your dentist during the first stage of pregnancy to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy. Ask your dentist to show you how to correctly use your toothbrush and dental floss. Be sure to consult with your dental professionals about the use of dental x-rays and local anaesthetic injections during the first trimester of your pregnancy.
Morning sickness can often affect pregnant women. If you experience morning sickness during the first month of your pregnancy, try to rinse your mouth with water immediately after vomiting. This will help to neutralise the acids from the stomach which can cause the tooth enamel to dissolve. Do not brush your teeth immediately after vomiting, however, as enamel softened by stomach acid is more readily removed by the abrasive action of the toothpaste and brush.
Pregnant women often experience cravings for certain foods. These snacks need to come from food groups which are low in sugar and fat. Sweet snacks should be avoided because they are the highest source of dental decay.
Fluoride is found in the water supply of most Australian cities and towns and also in most toothpastes. Fluoride has several effects: it makes the surface of the tooth more resistant to decay; it helps reduce early decay and repairs the surface of the tooth; and finally it helps reduce the build up of plaque on the teeth. If fluoride is not in the local water supply, then speak with your dentist. A fluoride supplement may be needed during pregnancy.
It is important to establish and maintain a balanced diet that is low in sugar and high in calcium. Know the five food groups, and eat foods from each group in every meal. The food groups are (1) breads and cereals, (2) dairy products, (3) meat, fish and nuts, (4) fruits and vegetables, and (5) fats.
A baby's teeth grow soon after a woman becomes pregnant. They continue to develop throughout the pregnancy. At four months into the pregnancy, calcium and phosphorous is needed to help the baby's teeth calcify. Towards the end of the pregnancy, more calcium is needed and can be obtained from eating calcium rich foods like dairy products.
Newborn babies do not have the bacteria in their mouths which can cause tooth decay. Their first teeth will come into the mouth around 6 to 10 months of age. Bacteria can be passed on to the baby by their parents through food tasting, kissing and/or cleaning a dummy in their own mouths.
You can reduce and delay the transfer of bacteria to your baby by thoroughly cleaning your own teeth. Eating sensibly and reducing the number of times a day that you eat sweet foods and drinks will help prevent decay for you and your baby.
The key points to remember when pregnant are regular dental check-ups, good oral hygiene habits, balanced diet, avoiding sweet foods and soft drinks, increasing calcium intake and changing your toothbrush regularly.