There's an old wives' tale that you 'gain a baby and lose a tooth' - and we have to say, there's definitely some truth in that, for some of us, at least. Can pregnancy affect your teeth? Absolutely yes.
Celeb mum of 2 Stacey Solomon hit the headlines when she revealed her second pregnancy 'destroyed' her teeth, saying: "My teeth turned a funny colour, I had to have some removed as they were so damaged, and I was soon full of fillings."
And, though not as extreme, many of our mums have reported having sore and sensitive teeth in pregnancy, like Emma H who says: "I couldn’t chew for weeks. My teeth were so sore. I had to eat mashed potato and really really soft foods - as soon as I had baby it was normal again xx"
Why do your teeth hurt or become loose in pregnancy?
Changes in your hormones during pregnancy can cause your gums to soften, leaving them prone to infection and inflammation, know as gingivitis, which can, in turn, affect your teeth as your gums separate from them and they become loose.
In addition, changes in diet and pesky pregnancy cravings can also play a part in altering your oral health and in particular, your teeth.
“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.
What can I do to help prevent tooth loss in pregnancy?
The BDA offered some top tips for keeping your teeth as healthy as possible in pregnancy. They suggest:
- cleaning your teeth carefully twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste
- reducing your sugar intake - keeping sugary treats to mealtimes only
- visiting the dentist regularly
- using a sensitive toothpaste if your teeth have become sore.
In addition, if you have morning sickness which includes nausea and vomiting, try and remember to rinse your mouth with water after each time you vomit. This will help prevent the acid in your vomit attacking your teeth.
And a mum from our Facebook community, Claire H, got this bit of advice: "My dentist recommended I made sure I almost doubled my dairy and calcium intake as the baby was getting it all and my teeth were getting weaker."
Will I get free dentist appointments now I'm pregnant?
There is some good news as a result of all this, though ?
Dental treatment is FREE on the NHS during your pregnancy! It's also free for the first 12 months after giving birth.
As mum Beth W explains: "With my second pregnancy I developed some sensitivity but just got on with it, come to baby being a month old I'm getting a root canal, followed by tooth removal and further down the line a crown fitted.... Yay?
"At least most of it was covered by my NHS exception card, phew! But I did have to pay towards some of it at the end, as it went on for a few months."
You'll be given a dental costs exemption certificate by your midwife when your pregnancy is confirmed, and to claim your free treatment, you just have to tell your dentist when you book your appointment and simply take your certificate along.
So, at least keeping tabs on your teeth won't cost you an arm and a leg.
What will my dentist say at my first appointment after my pregnancy?
Janet advises, first and foremost, that you make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you know you're pregnant.
“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,” she says.
Should I brush my teeth more while I'm pregnant?
Yes - if you're not already brushing twice a day.
“Concentrate a bit more on your general dental care, and make sure you do brush twice a day,” says Janet.
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.
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Do I need to use a certain kind of 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
Is there a link between oral bacteria and pregnancy complications?
One case in 2010 saw gingivitis blamed for a stillborn birth for the first time, after doctors found the same oral bacteria from the mum's mouth in the baby’s bloodstream.
And there has been research that suggests a link between poor oral heath in pregnancy and problems with the baby.
And while we imagine this is pretty rare indeed, we thought it was worth a mention it here - just as it serves as a reminder that your health can affect your baby's health when your pregnant.
But - don't panic: try and stick to the advice we've given here and do make sure you say hello to your dentist a few times during pregnancy ?
Tara is mum to 1 daughter, Bodhi Rae, and has worked as Content Editor and Social Media Producer at MadeForMums since 2015
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