By Dr. Hannah Granville
BDS MFDS RCSEd
During pregnancy there is a rise in hormones throughout your body. These hormones can sometimes cause issues in your mouth, particularly your gums.
Due to these changes in your body you are more likely to have some dental problems during pregnancy than you did before you got pregnant.
Increased levels of progesterone found in the body throughout pregnancy make it easier for certain bacteria in the mouth to grow. This bacteria can then go on to cause bleeding gums often referred to as pregnancy gingivitis. Symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis range from some bleeding when brushing to severe swelling and bleeding of the gums.
Large swellings on the gums are sometimes referred to as pregnancy epulis. These are harmless lesions which generally have no symptoms other than its presence. The epulis can sometimes cause issues if it is large enough to interfere with eating. If this is the case then the epulis can be removed. If the epulis does not cause any issues then the lesion is left and it will resolve following the birth of the baby.
Excellent oral hygiene throughout pregnancy can help prevent the formation of a pregnancy epulis and pregnancy gingivitis.
Whether or not you have problems with bleeding gums before you become pregnant, pregnancy will increase your chances of having some bleeding when brushing. Get brushing for two minutes twice daily and flossing once a day every day.
If morning sickness prevents you from brushing your teeth, try and pick a time in the day when you are feeling the least queasy to brush your teeth. If you vomit, rinse your mouth with water to wash away the acid and if you are feeling up to it try snacking on dairy products which will neutralise the acid in your mouth.
Stick to healthy snacks and drinks throughout the day. Too many sugary foods and drinks can cause tooth decay. Water along with fruit and vegetable are great snacks. Make sure you have prepared fruit and vegetables in your fridge that you can grab at any time.
If you have toothache during pregnancy go and see your dentist. You will have more time before the baby arrives. All dental pain can be treated while pregnant.
Make sure you go and see your dentist after you have had your baby for a full checkup with x-rays. Do it before your next baby arrives!
There are only a few very select things that cannot be done while pregnant so don’t put off your normal dental appointments but do make sure you inform your dentist how many weeks pregnant you are.
Dr. Hannah Granville is a general dental practitioner at South Dublin Dental in Foxrock village, Dublin 18.