My gums and teeth always let me know when I’m pregnant. Before that first bout of nausea or the inevitable exhaustion, my mouth is on the case. A pregnant mouth needs extra care. Luckily, with patience and good natural toothpaste, teeth can thrive, even when there’s a baby on the way.
From Healthy to Swollen
When I’m pregnant, my once healthy gums become tender and swollen. They bleed when I brush and floss. Obstetricians have told me that one-third of pregnant women experience this painful and annoying symptom. But I keep brushing and flossing, even when it hurts. Oral health is an important component of pregnancy health. In fact, infected teeth and gums can trigger preterm labor. Since I want a healthy baby, I make dental hygiene a priority.
To deal with swollen gums, I floss, brush gently with natural toothpaste, and rinse out my mouth with salt water once a day. Switching to a sensitive toothpaste makes brushing easier when everything is sore. Some of my friends use a waterpik to soothe their gums and remove excess debris. I’m also careful to check in with my dentist at regular intervals to make sure that my teeth and gums are still healthy. X-rays are out when I’m pregnant, but regular check-ups are a must.
For me, one of the biggest oral hygiene problems during pregnancy is linked to exhaustion. When you’re pregnant, your body tries to conserve energy. After all, it’s working hard 24 hours a day, building a baby. That means I often fall asleep right in the middle of my bedtime routine. Brushing and flossing fall by the wayside.
I work harder to keep up with my teeth, moving my oral-care time earlier in the evening so that my teeth get clean. When I fall asleep without brushing, I take care of my teeth when I get up in the middle of the night for a drink or to use the restroom.
Morning, Noon, and Night Sickness
Morning sickness can happen any time of the day, and it has huge effects on your ability to take care of your teeth. Sometimes nausea makes the taste of my normal toothpaste unbearable. I switch to a milder flavor like strawberry or mango. I’ve also resorted to children’s natural toothpaste, since toothpastes for kids tend to have milder flavors.
When I vomit, I rinse out my mouth with water to prevent stomach acids from damaging my teeth and giving bacteria an opening.
Finally, I swear by xylitol-based chewing gum. In my experience, gum also keeps nausea under control for short periods of time.
Pregnancy is a special time, and it comes with special dental hygiene needs. Don’t let the changes distract you from your dental-care routine, and don’t panic. My teeth, gums, and stomach all revert to normal as soon as I bring my new baby home from the hospital.
Has pregnancy affected your dental routine? Share your stories in the comments!
Image source: Jim Winstead; Flickr