Over 60% of pregnant women experience gum problems due to an increase in progesterone hormone l.evels which cause an exagerated gum response to even small accumulations of plaque.
1. Brush for 2 minutes at least twice a day–preferably morning and last thing at night. Don’t forget to floss.
2. If morning sickness prevents you from brushing use a mouthwash or rinse with just water after vomiting.
3. Avoid frequent sugary foods especially between meals. Watch the cravings
4. Eat a balanced diet which is good for you, your teeth and your baby.
5. Don’t skip your dental check-up. See your dentist as early in your pregnancy as is possible.
I was reminded of this ‘auld wives tale’ recently by a patient who attended with pain in a tooth . Her mother had informed her that the tooth had decayed because during her recent pregnancy the calcium needed for her baby came from the teeth, thus weakening them. However, this is not true as the calcium in our teeth is static and it is the mother’s bones that provides the required calcium for the developing foetus. So we can’t blame the children for that one.
On the other hand there can often be some truth to ‘auld wives tales’ but maybe for a different reason. During pregnancy lots of things happen due to hormonal changes and some of these may account for dental problems. For example, dietary changes. Expectant mothers often find it nauseating to eat at specific mealtimes and may eat smaller amounts of high carbohydrate/sugary foods more often during the day. This is the best way for anybody to increase their risk of tooth decay. Add to this the tiredness which makes one collapse into bed at night without brushing the teeth or maybe not being able to tolerate a toothbrush in ones mouth. How about the cravings which generally turn out to be for sugary foods ?
Of course there is also the increased susceptibility to gum disease during pregnancy which along with the poorer oral hygiene can lead to severe gum problems causing tooth loss.
So maybe you can blame the child after all ! You might as well because your children will blame you for enough during your lifetime.
( See follow-up for top tips to maintain healthy teeth during pregnancy )