Did you know that the health of your teeth can affect your unborn baby? Here’s why and how to look after your teeth when pregnant...
Having healthy teeth and gums is vitally important when you're pregnant, not just for you but also for your growing baby.
And yet, changes in your hormones during pregnancy can cause your gums to soften, leaving them prone to infection and inflammation, know as gingivitis.
Experts have also discovered a link between bacteria in your mouth and miscarriage. In fact, earlier this year gingivitis was blamed for a stillborn birth for the first time, after doctors found the same oral bacteria from the mums’ mouth in the baby’s bloodstream.
“During pregnancy you tend to eat different foods, often munching odd items and strange combinations due to morning sickness and cravings,” explains Janet Clarke from the British Dental Association.
“Snacking on lots of sweet things can also cause problems as you’re then having added sugar in your diet, increasing your risk of gum disease and tooth decay,” adds Janet.
1 Make an appointment to see your dentist
“It’s best to make an appointment with your dentist to discuss your oral health as soon as you find out you’re pregnant,” advises Janet. “They’ll be able to advise you on the best way to look after your teeth and gums during pregnancy, and give you any recommended treatments for problems you’re having.”
2 Get the form from your midwife for free dental treatment
Dental treatment is FREE on the NHS during your pregnancy! It's also free for the first 12 months after giving birth. You'll be given a dental costs exemption certificate by your midwife when your pregnancy is confirmed. To claim your free treatment, tell your dentist when you book your appointment and simply take your certificate along.
3 Brush twice a day
“Concentrate a bit more on your general dental care, and make sure you do brush twice a day,” says Janet.“If you suffer from bleeding gums, many people think they should stop brushing, but this isn’t the case. Brush more and make an appointment to see your dentist about it.”
It’s also worth being more aware of the foods you’re eating and what sets things off in your mouth. If you are craving sweet things, try and keep a sensible intake and have sugar and sweet foods in moderation.
4 Use fluoride toothpaste
Use toothpaste with fluoride in, as it’s an effective way of helping prevent tooth decay. However, don't put too much on your brush and spit it out when cleaning rather than swallow. “Mouthwash can be a good extra to brushing as it can help make your mouth feel and taste nice, but don’t have it replace your brushing,” warns Janet. “Think about the time of day you’re brushing too. If toothpaste or mouthwash sets off your morning sickness, then doing it later in the day is fine.”
“I had bad cravings for chocolate in my first trimester and suffered from toothache and light bleeding gums. My dentist was really helpful and suggested some alternative snacks to try that were lower in sugar, and I found brushing more and using a mouthwash helped clear it up after a couple of weeks.”Ashley Moore, 31, from Kent, 34 weeks pregnant
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