The old wives tale that pregnant women “gain a child and lose a tooth”, thankfully doesn’t hold true for most mums, but for Stacey Solomon her second pregnancy brought with it a whole host of dental problems, which eventually led to her being fitted with veneers.
In the first trimester Solomon saw the dentist more than her midwife. “All of a sudden I was being drilled into left, right and centre,” she wrote in her column for The Sun. “My teeth turned a funny colour, I had to have some removed as they were so damaged and I was soon full of fillings.”
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation told HuffPost UK that he has not come across a case like Solomon’s, but suggests problems such as extreme dental erosion could arise due to acids in the mouth from morning sickness.
“With dental erosion the acid in vomit or acidic foods and drinks eats away at the surface of the tooth eroding the enamel so that eventually the yellower dentine is exposed and the teeth can indeed become sensitive,” he explained.
If you suffer from morning sickness, Dr Carter advised rinsing your mouth with plain, still water after you vomit and avoiding sugary and acidic foods and drinks between meals, to help prevent acid attacking your teeth.
But even if you don’t suffer from morning sickness, there are some changes to your oral health that all pregnant women should be aware of. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque, leading to inflammation and bleeding.
“Gums can become sore and swollen during pregnancy, causing them to bleed more easily and existing untreated gum disease can get much worse, even leading to tooth loss if not treated,” said Dr Carter.
“There are also thought to be links between good gum health and birth outcomes, for example, you may be less likely to have your baby early, or a low birth weight if you have healthy gums.”
To prevent or deal with gum problems the British Dental Association recommends cleaning your teeth carefully twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste; reducing your sugar intake and keeping sugary treats to mealtimes only; and visiting the dentist regularly.
“If you follow the advice above, there is no reason to assume that teeth will be ‘damaged’ during pregnancy,” said a BDA spokesperson. “If you have any concerns during pregnancy, these should be raised with your dentist or hygienist, who can also check your brushing technique. The gums usually return to normal following the delivery of your baby and any bleeding and sensitivity should diminish as well.”
Dr Carter added: “You may need more appointments with your dental team during this time, for thorough cleaning and to help keep plaque and tartar from building up.
“Most gum disease starts inbetween the teeth so cleaning with interdental brushes or floss on a daily basis is also part of the routine. Toothpastes specially formulated for gum disease can also help to fight dental plaque and reduce gum disease and you might also want to consider using an antibacterial mouthwash between brushing for even greater protection.”
If you’re worried about the cost of extra dentist appointments adding up, it’s worth noting that NHS dental care is free during pregnancy and until one year after your due date, so speak to your doctor or midwife about getting a Maternity Exemption Certificate.