Pregnancy elicits a host of physical changes in women that can extend far beyond a growing baby bump. While many of these changes are welcome, such as thick hair and a glowing complexion, some may not be so enthusiastically embraced, like shifting teeth and gum problems.
The good news is orthodontic treatment during pregnancy can help alleviate and manage some of these issues, and there’s no reason to delay or suspend treatment just because you’re expecting.
Treatment during pregnancy
With more and more women turning to orthodontic treatment during their adult life, it’s only natural many are in their child bearing years when they take the step of committing to braces.
If you’re planning a pregnancy or find you’re expecting while undergoing orthodontic treatment, here’s what you need to know.
Tell your orthodontist
As with any medical procedures, you should inform your orthodontist if you find you’re expecting. Pregnancy is unlikely to affect braces, adjustments, or regular hygiene appointments but will impact whether you have tooth extractions, anaesthetic and X-rays.
Also talk with your obstetrician to understand if there any unique circumstances that may relate to you.
Avoid sticky foods
Even the most health-conscious women find their diet alters during pregnancy, with cravings for specific foods a common occurrence along with the need to eat more regularly.
Even so, when wearing braces, try to steer clear of nuts, sticky foods and items that are likely to damage your orthodontic work, and be extra vigilant when it comes to oral hygiene if you find yourself eating more often.
For many women morning sickness is a common and unwelcome side effect of expecting, and this too can affect your teeth. If you have the misfortune of suffering morning sickness, rinse your mouth out after vomiting to avoid the ongoing effects of stomach acid.
Oral hygiene and pregnancy
Oral hygiene is important all the time, but particularly critical during pregnancy. Expectant mothers often find they are more prone to periodontal issues like gum disease, increased tooth and gum sensitivity, and bleeding gums.
This is largely because of the increased oestrogen and progesterone during pregnancy that affects the way your teeth respond to plaque and bacteria, and it means looking after your teeth becomes even more of a priority. Dental checkups are critical, along with the regular hygiene appointments you schedule with your orthodontist.
Teeth shifting during pregnancy
It’s not uncommon for many women to notice their teeth shift during late pregnancy or just after having a baby.
This movement is believed to be linked to the release of the hormone relaxin. Relaxin assists with readying the body for birth, but it may also affect and relax the periodontal ligament allowing teeth to shift.
On the upside, if you already have braces, it may speed things along. On the downside, if you’ve completed orthodontic work you may notice unwelcome changes.
While this phenomenon takes many women by surprise, it’s certainly not unusual, and the best defence against unwanted teeth movement is to see an orthodontist sooner rather than later. The earlier an orthodontist can stop teeth from moving out of place, the better, and treatment may be as simple as wearing a custom-fitted retainer to prevent further changes.
The final word
Pregnancy is an exciting time, signalling changes to your life ahead. There’s no reason, however that it should have a major impact on your ongoing orthodontic work. Meanwhile, a check-in with your orthodontist may be just the item you need to ensure it’s not just your waistline that’s on the move.
At Norwest Orthodontics we’ve worked with hundreds of expectant mothers providing orthodontic services throughout pregnancy. We specialise in providing expert care for all our patients, and look forward to sharing this exciting time.