One of the greatest joys a woman can experience is receiving the news that she is pregnant. Bringing new life into the world is a magical time, and many women look forward to this part of their lives. However, changes are in store, both in life and in our bodies. Pregnancy can lead to many changes in the body, including oral health. Many women will need to make adjustments in their oral hygiene routines in order to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
Does Pregnancy Affect Oral Health?
As women’s bodies adjust to the demands of pregnancy, certain changes may occur in the mouth. The delicate pH balance may be affected, especially in women who experience the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness.
Vomiting releases stomach acids into the mouth. Over time, these acids can damage the tooth enamel, potentially leading to more serious tooth issues. Dental professionals and doctors recommend that women with morning sickness carry a travel kit to help alleviate the worst of the effects. The travel kit should include:
- Plastic bags (without holes) to use when bathroom facilities aren’t available
- Wet napkins or baby wipes that can be used to freshen the face after vomiting
- A small bottle of water to rinse the mouth out
- Travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrush for a quick freshening of the mouth. Brushing after vomiting eliminates damaging stomach acids and clears away the unpleasant taste.
Another potential condition is known as dysgeusia, sometimes called parageusia. This is a phenomenon where unpleasant distortions of taste may occur, often leaving an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth. There are many causes of this condition, including pH changes in the mouth, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or as an aftereffect of morning sickness. Women who experience dysgeusia as part of their pregnancy have several simple solutions recommended by dental experts. These include:
- Brushing the teeth and gums regularly with toothpaste.
- Gargling with a mixture of baking soda and water, helping to restore the mouth’s pH balance.
- Adding a bit of lemon juice to water before drinking.
- Sucking on lemon- or citrus-flavored candies to counteract the unpleasant taste sensations. Remember to swish the mouth out with water after eating sugary candies.
- Using plastic eating utensils instead of metal ones, which can amplify the metallic taste in one’s mouth.
See Your Dentist for More Information
Routine dental exams and cleanings are a critical part of oral health, and this includes women who may be pregnant. Dentists can help women address the oral health changes they are experiencing, providing tips on alleviating unpleasant tastes or conditions that may affect the health of the teeth and gums. They can also spot potential problems before they become serious. Taking care of your oral hygiene with regular brushing and flossing goes a long way in preserving a healthy mouth, but visits to the family dentist should be part of the overall oral health strategy. Call your dentist today to schedule an appointment.