There are so many changes that happen to your body during pregnancy, but one part of your body you might not expect to be affected is your mouth.
While you’re pregnant, you are more at risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay, so it’s important that you keep up with your dental visits throughout your pregnancy, to catch any problems early on. If you have Medibank Growing Family Extras, you can claim benefits for dental visits, so plan for 6-monthly visits at a minimum.
How does being pregnant change things?
The challenges and demands that pregnancy places on your body can make it harder than normal to look after your teeth. The changes in your hormones mean your body is not as good at fighting plaque, so you’re far more susceptible to gum disease than normal.
You might crave sugary snacks, and if you’re finding it hard to stay away from your sugary urges, you’re more likely to suffer from tooth decay.
If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer from sickness, the vomiting can damage tooth enamel and increase the risk of decay, so you need to be careful to rinse your mouth thoroughly, and brush your teeth about an hour after vomiting (this is because if your teeth are covered with acid after vomiting, brushing them immediately afterwards can damage them). Or you may just find that brushing your teeth in general makes you feel sick or retch. In this case, try and use a toothbrush with a smaller head, and slow the brushing action down, taking deep breaths as you go.
The good news is that if you do stay on top of your dental hygiene, you’re less likely to develop gum disease. Here, Dentist Dr William Ha delves into the detail of keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
How long should I brush for?
Most people will automatically state that they brush their teeth for two minutes – however, few have actually timed themselves. Research has shown that many people brush for approximately 30 seconds. Two minutes is the standard time to maintain adequate oral hygiene, so the best way to ensure a thorough clean is to place a clock in the bathroom.
How often should I brush?
Once in the morning and once at night is the standard to keep your mouth healthy. Many people only brush in the morning, as they want to have a fresh breath for the benefit of others. However, when you are asleep, the mouth is at its driest and bacteria will grow faster and thus cavities form faster at night. Brushing at night is the most important for health, but brushing twice a day is the minimum requirement for healthy teeth.
What sort of toothbrush should I use?
Soft toothbrushes are for teeth. Medium and hard brushes are for cleaning sinks. If you use a toothbrush that is not soft, you will scratch away tooth structure and your gums may recede.
Smaller toothbrush heads are usually better as it means you can access hard-to-reach areas with better ease. Electric toothbrushes are good if you don’t have the dexterity or feel lazy. However, as long as you’re brushing every corner of your teeth, the type of toothbrush doesn’t matter.
I don’t think there’s any difference between brands, grips, angles or the inclusion of rubber bits to the toothbrush. Just pick whatever feels right for you.
What should I do if…
My teeth hurt when I brush?
Teeth should never hurt when you brush or floss. It either means you have problems with your teeth or your cleaning technique is unintentionally rough. If you are avoiding cleaning your teeth it means your teeth will be getting more and more unhealthy. Seeing your dentist as soon as you can is necessary unless you are willing to undertake further complicated work.
My gums bleed when I brush?
Gums should never bleed when you brush. It either means you’re not brushing enough, or brushing too rough. Again, you should see your dentist as soon as you can to prevent matters getting worse.
My dentist advised me to do things differently?
That’s ok – your dentist knows your mouth best. Every body, and every mouth, is different. Your dentist has given you personalised advice for your mouth. If your dentist has taken the time to assess your health and habits, then the advice they are giving you is the best for you.