TV personality Stacey Solomon detailed a troubling side effect of pregnancy in her column on The Sun: dental problems. The 28-year-old said she saw her dentist more than she saw her midwife, and hadn’t even had a filling before she got pregnant.
“Up until that point I’d never even had a filling and all of a sudden I was being drilled into left, right and centre. My teeth turned a funny colour, I had to have some removed as they were so damaged and I was soon full of fillings,” she wrote.
Stacey says her dental problems eventually settled four months into her pregnancy, but she was left with brown, decayed teeth. For the first time in her life, she felt self-conscious about her smile.
Her dentist suggested Lumineers, which are placed on top of the natural teeth. Desperate to get back her normal smile, she agreed to the Lumineers.
The results weren’t exactly what she had expected. The process, she says, was painful, as she was pregnant and opted not to have an anesthetic. As for the Lumineers, Stacey says they were “whiter than white” and “felt weird.”
Part of the problem is that the material used to create veneers is resistant to staining that natural teeth are susceptible to. For some, this can create an unnaturally white appearance.
“The specially developed porcelain material used to fashion the veneers makes them resistant to stains that would normally discolor natural tooth enamel,” says Comfort Care Family Dental, which specializes in cosmetic and general dentistry. “This means they are resistant to the staining effects of coffee, tea, wine, and tobacco.”
After being on the receiving end of some not-so-nice comments about her ultra-white smile, Stacey once again started concealing her teeth.
Years later, Stacey worked up the courage to return to the dentist. The dentist fixed her bite and shaved down her teeth to create a more natural look. While she was happy with the results, she says she “will forever look slightly fake and probably older” because of her veneers.
Pregnancy can wreak havoc on some women’s’ teeth, causing tooth decay and gum disease. Hormone levels increase during pregnancy, which can affect how the body responds to plaque.
Some women develop what’s called pregnancy gingivitis, which is triggered by hormonal changes in the body. This condition causes the gums to become inflamed and tender. The gums may bleed when brushing or flossing.
If left untreated, this condition can lead to a more serious form of gum disease.
Some women develop pregnancy tumors, which are overgrowths of tissue on the gums. This is most common during the second trimester, and may be related to excess plaque. The growths may bleed easily and resemble raspberries in appearance. They typically disappear after the baby is born.
Pregnant women are at greater risk of developing tooth decay for a number of reasons.
Some women have cravings for sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods. Giving in to these cravings can lead to tooth decay.
Morning sickness can also contribute to tooth decay, as the mouth is exposed to more acid that can eat away at the enamel.
Some women may not be as diligent with brushing and flossing during pregnancy for a number of reasons. Morning sickness and the gag reflex may make brushing uncomfortable. Some women are simply too exhausted to carry out their normal routine.
Poor brushing habits during pregnancy have been linked to premature delivery, gestational diabetes, intrauterine growth restriction and even preeclampsia.
Preventing Pregnancy Dental Issues
Not every woman suffers from dental issues during pregnancy, but it’s still important to notify your dentist that you’re pregnant.
Morning sickness can be a major contributor to dental issues, but there are a few things you can do to prevent damage.
- Avoid brushing immediately after vomiting. Brushing while the teeth are still coated in stomach acids can damage the enamel.
- Rinse the mouth with plain tap water followed by a fluoridated mouthwash.
- If you don’t have mouthwash, place a dab of fluoridated toothpaste on your finger and smear it over your teeth. Rinse as you would when brushing.
Wait at least an hour after vomiting to brush your teeth.
Food cravings can also lead to dental issues, particularly if you’re craving carbohydrate-rich or sugary foods. If you can’t kick your cravings for sugar, try a healthier option, such as fruit.
Doctors often recommend increasing calcium and vitamin D intake during pregnancy, which can also help keep teeth healthy. Food sources of vitamin D include eggs, fatty fish and cheese.
Maintaining dental health during pregnancy is important, so make sure you’re seeing your dentist regularly and following a solid oral hygiene routine.