Pregnancy and your mouth. What’s being pregnant got to do with your mouth, I hear you ask?!
Well, stranger on the internet, I’m talking all about how Pregnancy can affect your oral health. In this case, my personal experience with both my gums and teeth during my pregnancies. Because how conceiving a baby can send your oral health into turmoil is something that just isn’t spoken about. It’s another one of those ‘pregnancy treats’ that you don’t find out about until you’re struck down!
My teeth were ground to bits when I was pregnant with Eli – for some reason, being pregnant gives you more of reason to grind those toothies. I’d also clench my teeth together too. As I type this, my teeth are currently clenched. But I think that this current clenching is due to stopping myself from feeling so nauseous. Some women tend to grind their teeth or clench their jaws, especially during deep sleep or times of stress. Teeth grinding is also know by the medical term ‘bruxism’. Sometimes, teeth grinding can lead to several problems. It can wear down tooth enamel, which it had/has in my case and can cause chipping of the teeth, increase the sensitivity of the teeth to heat and cold and cause pain to the face and the jaw. I also tended/tend to wake up with a sore jaw and headache. For this reason, I was fitted with a mouth guard for use when sleeping when I was pregnant with Eli. However, once Eli arrived, my teeth also had a shift about and the guard no longer fit properly!
Your teeth are more sensitive during pregnancy, even from the very beginning. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque, leading to inflammation and bleeding. This is also called pregnancy gingivitis or gum disease.
Morning Sickness All Day Sickness is another treat that can cause some serious damage to your teeth and gums. During bouts of sickness and nausea, make sure you rinse your mouth with plain water after each time you vomit. This will help prevent the acid in your vomit attacking your teeth. Do not brush your teeth straight away as they will be softened by the acid from your stomach. Wait about an hour before doing so.
I wasn’t sure if the old wives tale of “you lose a tooth for every pregnancy” rang true – but I did have a wisdom tooth extracted shortly after Eli was born and I’ve had a total carry on with my teeth of recent. All of which is why I am beyond thankful to the amazing NHS for offering their dentist services for free during pregnancy.
Luckily, here in England, Pregnant women can apply for a Maternity Exception Certificate via their Midwife or GP. Details of which you can find, here.
At time of this blog post being published, in February 2019, if you’re pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months, you are entitled to:
- free NHS dental treatment
- free NHS prescriptions if you have a valid maternity exemption certificate
A maternity exemption certificate:
- entitles you to free prescriptions
- can be used to prove your entitlement to free NHS dental treatment
You’re also entitled to continue to use your exception card for 12 months after your baby is born. If you did not apply for a maternity exemption certificate while you were pregnant, you can still apply at any time during the 12 months after your baby is born.
For all commonly asked Pregnancy and NHS related questions, you can find a comprehensive list of answers on the NHS website, here.
This pregnancy started with swollen, painful gums that bled and a struggle to brush my teeth without borking 😭 I was waking with that pain in my jaw and ear from clenching and grinding my teeth in my sleep and had impressions done for a new mouth guard; in hope it would bring some relief.
Fast forward to two weeks ago I went to the dentist again about a troublesome tooth that had cracked. It was so painful… or at least I thought it was painful until my dentist went gung-ho with a drill in an attempt to revive the old filling and where the tooth had cracked in half. The dentist filled the gaps and sent me on my way. Taking heed of the NHS advice to avoid painkillers; I basically laid my sad little face on a hot water bottle for a week.
By the Friday of the same week, I had cried every single day with the pain. After all my previous dental treatment (so many tooth extractions, braces, a retainer and my wisdom tooth removed), I’d never had pain like this. Another appointment saw that the nerves were damaged in my tooth where it was drilled earlier in the week. I was offered Root Canal treatment or pulling it out. The best option for me was E X T R A C T I O N. I just wanted the tooth gone, I was in total agony.
Brilliant. Nee bother. I’ve had half of my teeth removed since age 9, so loosing another one wouldn’t be a problem 🤷♀️
The anaesthetic soon got to work and my dentist began to pull and tug. She was pulling with such force she knocked my safety goggles off. 25 minutes later and a lot of me moo’ing like a cow (thinking I was being a wimp…) , I went pale, floppy and a first aider was sent in. I’d had a dip in blood pressure, blood sugar and it turned out that I had not been given enough anaesthetic. I was given a tablet, more anaesthetic (5 needles worth in total) and a further 25 minutes later the sodding tooth was out; in around 20 pieces. I’ve never had an extraction like it. I went home, totally shook.
My jaw, cheek, ear, sinuses and the gum were so swollen and I was in such agony. I threw up and eventually I gave in an swallowed two paracetamol and laid my face upon my trusty hot water bottle once again. It looked like we could see my jaw bone in my gum and I didn’t have a blood clot on the gum at all. Because of this, I was religiously, but gently, swilling with warm salt water to be on the safe side.
By Sunday evening, I was still in such pain – but just thought again, I’m being a right wimp, my pain threshold isn’t as high ‘cos pregnant. But Monday morning came and my gum wasn’t right. My mouth tasted vile. The ‘stuff’ we thought was ‘granulation’ on my gum, was in fact infection. Straight back to the dentist I went. As my dentist is beyond cautious of how she treats pregnant women, she diagnosed Dry Socket and cleaned out the infection then injected something into my gum. I was not prescribed antibiotics or painkillers, as my dentist felt that my body was doing a “good job” of attempting to recover the gum itself. Some medicine was packed into the socket and I was sent on my way. The medicine tasted rank – kind of like chewing raw cloves, but I got used to it fairly quickly. I’d say by 3pm, I was more of less pain free. I couldn’t believe the relief. I cried because it was so weird to feel more normal!
I went to bed on Monday evening feeling pretty smug that I no longer needed my hot water bottle. But POW, its 3am and your gum and jaw and ear and cheek and sinuses are back to screaming in pain. BRILLIANT. The infection had pushed the gauze and whatever else was packed into my gum, out. The taste was unbearable. I couldn’t fall back to sleep.
So, back to the dentist I went yesterday. After a little clean up I was prescribed Amoxicillin for the next 5 days. Amoxicillin is one of the Antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy.
I woke up today feeling sick, lightheaded and my mouth tastes absolutely vile. I’m 5 tablets into my course of Amoxicillin however and I’m bloody hoping they do the trick because there is still pain there too.
Moral of the story? Visit your dentist regularly. Especially when you’re pregnant!