The gums become more fragilePregnancy changes the hormone balance, weakening the tissues. The gums are no exception: they become swollen and sometimes painful. Their natural defenses against bacteria also suffer. That’s why your gums might bleed when you bite into an apple or brush your teeth. This inflammation needs to be treated quickly to avoid any ill effects on your hygiene. If you feel tempted to brush your teeth less thoroughly so that they don’t bleed, tartar will have every opportunity to develop and settle in, aggravating periodontal risks.
To make brushing more pleasant, choose a soft-bristled brush and switch toothpastes if your usual toothpaste has developed a funny taste--yet another common but surprising effect of pregnancy!
Nausea can attack the enamel
When nausea and vomiting occur frequently, the pH level in the mouth becomes more acidic. This can wear down your tooth enamel faster, causing teeth to lose their gleam and become more porous. In other words, treating your nausea is also important in protecting those pearly whites. To neutralize the acid, simply rinse your mouth with a fluoride-containing mouthwash recommended by your dentist (or with a glass of water with a sprinkle of baking soda) rather than pulling out your toothbrush and toothpaste right away: some toothpastes can increase acidity, and brushing may trigger a fresh wave of nausea!
Avoiding infection is essential
Good oral and dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist will help avoid an infection, or treat it quickly if you do contract one. This is important because infections may not stay contained in the teeth; by traveling down the nerve, they can spread to the heart, eyes, and muscles, even those in the heart. If in doubt, or at the least suspicion, schedule an appointment immediately.
Protect your skeleton
Did you know? The jaw is the largest movable joint in the body. It determines the overall balance of the mouth, clenching and grinding, and those frequent tooth squeaks, especially at night, that cause joint pain. Because it is so important, poor occlusion (misaligned teeth or a jaw that fits together poorly) can create tension in the top of the head, around the cervicals, in the spine and hips, and influence the balance of your entire skeleton. And since your back is under serious strain during pregnancy, this is no time to dither. Ask for a full set of dental x-rays to make sure everything is ok. If not, the dentist may recommend that you wear a retainer at night. It may not be incredibly sexy, but it sure does work!