You might be surprised to know that a lot can change in your mouth when you get pregnant. From increased sensitivity to bleeding gums, and getting a dryer mouth, many mums notice various changes during the course of their pregnancy, and it’s those, yep - you guessed it - hormones, that can have a huge impact on your oral health.
To help you understand how you can keep your gums and teeth in tip top condition throughout your pregnancy and beyond, we’ve put together some expert guidance from dentist, Dr Hanna Kinsella, who you might recognise from The Real Housewives of Cheshire.
What impact does pregnancy have on oral health?
'During pregnancy, the hormone changes that occur can have an impact on your teeth and oral health. For some women it can lead to a number of dental problems and so it’s vital to protect your teeth before, during and after pregnancy in order to reduce the likelihood of problems developing.
‘I gave birth to my son, Maximus, in February so I know first hand how pregnancy can change all aspects of your body, including for many people their teeth. That’s why it’s important to maintain regular check-ups during pregnancy and beyond in order to help to identify problems and get treatment early.’
What should you do if you're experiencing an increase in sensitivity when pregnant?
‘Many women experience an increase in sensitivity when pregnant. This can be down to a number of factors including the change in hormone levels, also the change in behaviour that the pregnancy may bring about. Some people for example feel so sick that they can’t bear to brush their teeth at the back without gagging, and this obviously impacts dental hygiene and can result in a buildup of plaque. It can help to use a toothbrush with a smaller head than usual or try a different flavour toothpaste, or even having a distraction like watching something or listening to music whilst brushing can also help.’
How should mums change the way they look after their teeth when pregnant?
‘During pregnancy you should make sure you go for regular check ups in order for the dentist to check for tooth decay, gum disease and other pregnancy-related oral health issues. Because pregnancy can lead to swollen and bleeding gums, it’s important to make sure that you don’t use too firm a toothbrush and that you’re not brushing teeth too hard as this can further aggravate gums.’
Should you change your toothpaste or toothbrush? And is it safe to continue with flossing and mouthwash?
‘There’s no need to necessarily change your toothbrush in pregnancy, but it’s important to remember that toothbrushes or your toothbrush head should always be changed every 3-4 months anyway. Gums can bleed more during pregnancy so a brush with soft filaments may be more comfortable. You should still floss to maintain optimum oral health but if you’re using mouthwash don’t use one with alcohol in. Rinsing the mouth out daily with warm salty water can help to reduce the gum inflammation that many women experience during pregnancy.’
What if gums bleed during pregnancy?
‘Bleeding gums during pregnancy is common and is usually caused by gingivitis which is a gum infection. It’s caused by the change in hormones and is most likely to occur during the second trimester and symptoms include swelling of the gums and bleeding, usually when brushing. If untreated this can lead to periodontal disease which is an infection of the gums ligament and bone, and in severe cases tooth loss. It’s important to speak to your dentist if you’re suffering from this.’
Is it safe to whiten your teeth during pregnancy?
‘This is very much down to the individual products so I would always ask for the advice of your dentist before embarking on a teeth whitening programme during pregnancy.
'My Icy Bear whitening toothpaste is safe to use during pregnancy and when breastfeeding. It’s been exclusively manufactured in the UK and contains a new, innovative system that’s shown to not only brighten the smile but also to protect the teeth against cavities. Icy Bear is an earth conscious brand - palm oil free, SLS free and animal cruelty free and all of the products are produced in the UK adhering to strict industry guidelines.
'The unique toothpaste has a rare ingredient combination containing the finest diamonds. Thanks to its extremely low abrasiveness, tooth surfaces are gently cleaned and stains reduced with no damage to the tooth surface. Designed for twice-daily use for complete oral care, the cult product in the making uses diamond dust to effectively reduce stains - the diamond dust is a natural abrasive agent that reduces staining whilst polishing the surface of the enamel to restore teeth to their natural whiteness.'