Teeth are such a big part of our lives – we use them for eating, for talking, for smiling, for feeling confident about ourselves. This is all very well and good – until one gets pregnant! Having a baby takes a lot out of the body, from the beginning to the final stages – and it can also have a big impact on your teeth, too.
Who’d have thought that getting pregnant can actually affect your teeth? Your waistline yes, your sleep patterns yes, your lifestyle yes – but your teeth? Also yes. Being pregnant can take a surprising toll on your oral health too. But what, if anything, can you do about it?
Obviously, preparing for anew baby is not the most ideal time to be racking up bills at the dentist. If you are recently pregnant, you may be wondering “do you get free dental care when pregnant” and luckily the answer is yes!
It won’t be free forever, sadly, but it should be long enough to see you through the time in your life when your teeth are at possibly the most risk they will ever be.
How does pregnancy affect your teeth?
Pregnancy can affect the body in a huge variety of ways, including the teeth. There is an old wives’ tale that you lose a tooth with every baby – but fear not, this doesn’t have to be the case! Especially not with today’s improved dental care, diet, and awareness of the problems that we can face, and the toll that being pregnant can take on your teeth.
It may come as a bit of a surprise, but the reason for your teeth being compromised during pregnancy is easily explained – hormones. Those pesky little surges can affect just about everything in your body, and while you’re pregnant they can increase your body’s reaction to the layer of plaque that builds up on your teeth over time. This can lead to an inflammation, and so to gum disease. Gum disease can be painful, and it can even cause your teeth to become loose over time.
Another factor in pregnancy taking its toll on your teeth is morning sickness – many women suffer from vomiting during pregnancy, and the acidity of the bile can wear away the enamel of the teeth.
Unusual food cravings can affect your teeth, as well as the rest of your body, especially if you find yourself reaching for chocolate and sweets.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also leach calcium from your body, which can adversely affect your teeth – but this will normalise after you have had your baby and they have weaned.
Do you get free dental care when pregnant?
The short answer is yes, if you live in the UK.
You will receive free dental care while you are pregnant, and until your baby is a year old, and although there are some treatments it is not recommended to have whilst pregnant, you should definitely take advantage of the treatment and visit your dentist for your scheduled appointments such as check ups and cleaning.
You can also call your dentist at any time, if you have an emergency or if you are worried about the state of your teeth or gums.
You will need a MAT B1 certificate from your doctor or midwife to show to your dentist, and you will receive a handy card to store in your wallet after your baby is born, that you can show to your dentist every time you visit.
How to improve your teeth while pregnant
Luckily, there is a lot you can do at home to help your teeth stay in their best shape while you’re pregnant, that will help them stay firmly in your mouth where they belong.
- First, make sure you visit your dentist regularly. Because you receive free dentist treatment when you’re pregnant, this won’t be such a blow to the bank account as it usually is.
- Limit the amount of sugary snacks and sweets you eat, and try to avoid fizzy drinks.
- Floss daily to remove the small particles of food between your teeth that brushing alone does not quite reach. It’s a good idea to buy a good dental kit for your home.
- Brush twice a day, with toothpaste that contains fluoride, to protect your teeth and gums.
- If you suffer from vomiting, be sure to brush your teeth after every time you are sick, to remove the acid from the bile.
- Try a rinse with salt water if your gums are irritated, by dissolving 1 teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and swishing it around your mouth before spitting out.
- Oil pulling is very good for gum health. Take one teaspoon of coconut oil and swish it around your teeth and gums for as long as you can, up to 20 minutes (be warned, this may be difficult if you are one of the women who suffer with nausea in your pregnancy!)
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is very important, whether or not you are pregnant. Being pregnant may mean that you have a lot of other things on your mind, but it is important to take good care of your oral health too.
When you are looking to make your body as well as it can be for yourself and your baby, don’t neglect your teeth!
Do you get free dental care when pregnant? In the UK, you will receive free dental care when you are pregnant and until your baby is a year old, so make the most of it by seeing your dentist regularly.