Changes in your hormones can give you certain side effects and conditions during your pregnancy. While these problems may not last through your entire pregnancy or often go away after you've given birth, they can be troublesome and may cause some health issues.

For example, you may experience changes in the volume of saliva you produce in your mouth when you're pregnant. This may give you a constant dry mouth. While this may seem an uncomfortable problem rather than a serious health issue, a dry mouth can cause problems with your teeth and gums over time. Why is a dry mouth a potential dental health problem and how can you manage your symptoms?

How a Dry Mouth Affects Your Dental Health

Your mouth doesn't just rely on saliva to keep it moist and comfortable; saliva is also one of your primary oral defences. Saliva helps keep your mouth clean and healthy by dealing with the bacteria, acids and viruses in it. Saliva also contains calcium and phosphorus which help combat problems such as decay by strengthening the enamel on your teeth.

If you don't produce enough saliva, you lose these benefits and may be at a higher risk of developing problems with your teeth and gums such as decay or gum disease.

Pregnancy May Make Matters Worse

While a dry mouth in pregnancy may not be a permanent problem, this condition may be more problematic for pregnant women, bringing an increased risk of dental problems. When you're pregnant you may be more generally prone to developing dental problems due to an increase in your hormones. For example, this gives you a higher risk of developing gum problems because your body doesn't react to plaque in the same way as it did before you were pregnant.

This increased risk, added to the lack of a saliva defence from your dry mouth, may make it tricky for you to maintain your oral health; however, you may be able to minimise the risk of developing dental problems by trying to increase your saliva production artificially.

How to Increase Saliva Flow

If your saliva is not flowing as much as it should, you can give it a helping hand. For example, you may find the following tips useful:

  • Eat foods that make you chew or that are watery. These foods put more liquid in your mouth.
  • Drink water regularly or suck on small pieces of ice to hydrate your mouth.
  • Use sugar free gum or boiled sweets to get moisture into your mouth, especially between meals when your mouth may dry up more.

If these tips are not enough to fix your dry mouth, talk to your dentist about dental products that may also help you improve saliva production. For example, your dentist may be able to recommend saliva-promoting toothpastes and mouth rinses that are safe to use in pregnancy.

A dry mouth can also be a side effect of medication. If you're taking medications during your pregnancy, ask your doctor if your prescription may be giving you a dry mouth. If it is, then your doctor may be able to prescribe a medication that doesn't have this side effect.