One of the most dreaded side effects of pregnancy is morning sickness, which involves a feeling of nausea that often extends past the morning hours. Women have varying degrees of morning sickness, and some may never feel sick at all. However, for majority of moms-to-be, morning sickness can range from an icky feeling in their stomach when their first wake-up to extreme nausea and vomiting throughout the day. Some women find that their morning sickness lets up after the first trimester, and others are sick until the hour they deliver. Regardless of how severe your pregnancy sickness is, there are consequences on your dental health that you should be aware of.
- Acid Erosion
- Whether you are vomiting often or you have bouts of acid reflux during pregnancy, the extra acidity in your mouth and saliva can wreak havoc on your teeth. Do your best to rinse with water after you have a vomiting episode and avoid going straight for the toothbrush. It’s best wait half an hour afterwards to avoid abrasively scrubbing acids against your teeth. In other words, give your body a chance to naturally neutralize the pH of your mouth first. You may also try rinsing with a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water to stop acids from harming your smile. Once the acids erode the enamel of your teeth, you’ll be left with sensitivity, discoloration and a higher risk for cavities.
- Decay and Gum Disease
- Gum disease is unfortunately common during pregnancy, hence the term “pregnancy gingivitis.” Your changing hormones are to blame for the higher risk in gum inflammation. This can be further compounded by extra acids and sugars left on the teeth and gums of a woman who has morning sickness.
- It is common for women who have morning sickness to engage in frequent snacking or grazing to keep their nausea at bay. In addition, they often resort to a diet rich in carbs and sugars. These are habits that set the stage for decay and gum disease. For example, someone who is nauseous may crave waffles and syrup rather than a fiber cereal. While it is best to avoid poor dietary choices during pregnancy, if you must indulge to get through an especially queasy day, make sure you brush and floss well afterwards.
- At Mitzi Morris, DMD, we know that pregnancy brings several challenges. We also know that you have to follow certain rules and be aware of a lot more about your body than you probably ever have before. However, we encourage pregnant women to pay special attention to their oral health, especially if they suffer from morning sickness. In addition, it is completely safe and advised that you attend your routine dental checkups during pregnancy. Remember that your oral health has a direct impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Untreated gum disease can even lead to premature birth!