• August 22, 2011
  • Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

Are you at that “glowing” stage when there is no outwardly evidence of your little bundle, except that you keep running to the toilet with your mouth covered up and you consider your day a success when you haven’t “sprayed” anyone or embarrassingly revealed in the most public space the contents of your stomach. Morning sickness time! 

If you are not vomiting or you finally ‘outgrew’ that phase, you are probably familiar with gastric reflux. Reflux, ah, reflux (aka heartburn)! The baby is getting bigger and soon enough you will start to feel like every joyous kick and movement brings with it a wave of burning in your oesophagus, a bittersweet feeling, excuse the pun! 

Gastric reflux and vomiting bring up the highly acidic contents of your stomach into contact with the mineralized enamel of your teeth, causing it to demineralize (dissolve). The amount of damage depends on the frequency of acid exposure, as well as hydration of your mouth during these acid attacks (e.g reflux tends to hit at night, when there is little saliva in your mouth to neutralize the acid, while vomiting causes you to get dehydrated quite quickly, so that your salivary glands can’t keep up with saliva production). It may range from an invisible surface only demineralization where a few ions of calcium are removed from the teeth to a deeper destruction where there is visible change in the surface smoothness of your teeth. 

If you suffer from severe heartburn, speak to your GP or Obstetrician about what pharmaceuticals may be good to use. This can relieve your symptoms and help your teeth. 

I wish there was a cure for morning sickness. It will probably get better as you go further into your pregnancy, however, there are some things you can do to counteract some of the damage caused by it. Two words: Dentist, hygienist! Your professional dental team will be able to monitor your saliva and surface effects on your teeth and may recommend remineralizing agents, such as fluoride or calcium rich topical supplements, which can remineralize your teeth and harden them against future acid attacks.They may also recommend neutralizing mouth rinses, the favourite being a simple, home-made -BiCarb Soda rinse (dissolve two teaspoons of BiCarb Soda in a glass of water). You can use these agents and rinse immediately after vomiting, INSTEAD OF brushing your teeth.

It is really important not to brush your teeth immediately after meals or vomiting.  Brushing will physically remove the already demineralized surface of enamel, while rinsing will neutralize the environment, causing the calcium lost from the teeth to simply be taken up by enamel again with no nett loss of enamel mineral!

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh
About The Author

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

Catherine-Anne is a New Zealand-qualified dentist. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Sydney University and she has a broad range of experiences from working in both the public and private sector.

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