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Expectant mums avoiding dentist while pregnant despite increased risk, study finds

04/08/2016  |  Tags: Sweet cravings, Expectant mums,
There is a lot to think about during pregnancy and, according to a recent study, looking after your teeth is something that falls by the wayside for many Australian women.
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) surveyed 1,000 women aged 18 to 64 and found 60 per cent were unaware that there is an increased risk of gum disease during pregnancy, and more than half would avoid seeing the dentist while pregnant altogether.

"From the research, we've seen that women are unaware that it is still safe to go to the dentist," Dr Jessica Manuela from ADA Tasmania told Ryk Goddard on 936 ABC Hobart.

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More than one in four would avoid visiting the dentist while pregnant because they were worried about procedures harming the baby, the study found.
Six ways pregnant women can protect their oral health

    Visit the dentist regularly, especially while pregnant, and tell your dentist you are pregnant.
    Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day, using fluoridated toothpaste and flossing daily.
    Eat a healthy, balance diet. If you have sweet cravings, try low sugar options such as fruit and yoghurt.
    Drink water between meals and after snacks to rinse your mouth.
    If you get morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water after vomiting and wait at least an hour before brushing your teeth.
    Chew sugarfree gum after eating and drinking to stimulate saliva flow to help neutralise acid.

"I suppose when women are pregnant they are extra cautious about a lot of things," Dr Manuela said.

"Women are unaware they should still go to the dentist and that they should actually take a preventable approach to their dental needs before, during and after pregnancy."
Sweet cravings and morning sickness a risk to teeth

As well as changes to hormones, many pregnant women can have cravings for sweet food and drink, which could increase the harm to their teeth.

"When you are pregnant, the body certainly does change," Dr Manuela said.

"They will often change the diet, so they may have some more sugary cravings … also morning sickness, you'll have a lot of strong stomach acids in the mouth."

Dr Manuela said brushing too soon after vomiting would erode the enamel on the teeth.

"With morning sickness, it's really important that women know to rinse the mouth out with water after vomiting but wait an hour before brushing the teeth," she said.