Your levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone skyrocket when you're pregnant and this storm of hormones leads to many physical changes in your body, which include the oral cavity. So, visiting your dentist should be on your to-do list.
Your saliva changes in pregnancy, which makes you more likely to get cavities.
“The main salivary changes in pregnancy involve its flow (there’s more of it), composition, and pH and hormone levels,” explains Dr Eshaam Abdurahman from Paarl in the Western Cape. Progesterone decreases the pH of saliva, and the increased acidity speeds up the dissolving of the (already compromised) tooth. Other changes alter the natural defence mechanisms of the teeth and create conditions that allow bacteria to flourish.
Plaque control is crucial in pregnancy. Plaque formation can lead to periodontal disease, and research shows a link between this and preterm low birth weight. Research published by the Journal of Periodontology suggests that visiting an oral hygienist or dentist cuts the risks of preterm or low-weight birth by a third. It showed severe gum infections cause an increase in the production of chemicals that induce labour. Consider switching to an electric toothbrush, as they remove more plaque.
MORE MOUTH CHANGES TO WATCH FOR
Morning sickness leading to vomiting in your first trimester, and heartburn in your third trimester, could harm your teeth. “The gastric acids in the vomit or reflux can erode the enamel on the inner surface of the teeth, most commonly the front teeth,” Dr Abdurahman says.
“If you are vomiting frequently, rinse your mouth thoroughly afterwards with a solution that contains sodium bicarbonate. This neutralises the acids, and it prevents the damage.”
If you find you are gagging when brushing, use a smaller toothbrush for the back of your teeth.
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