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Dental Health in Pregnancy: How to Prevent Acid Reflux From Damaging Your Teeth

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It's quite common for women to suffer from heartburn at some point during their pregnancies. For example, your hormones may affect your digestion early on,  or the growing size of your baby may give you heartburn problems later on by pushing your stomach up and out of position.

During heartburn attacks, your stomach may push its acids up through your gullet into your mouth, giving you a burning feeling. This may make you feel uncomfortable and may also affect your teeth. If you have regular acid attacks over a long period, the acid that washes back up into your mouth may end up washing over your teeth. During this process, the acid may weaken your dental enamel and damage it. How can you protect your teeth after an acid reflux attack?

How to Wash Away Acid Reflux

If you are suffering from heartburn and can taste acid in your mouth, you may be able to wash the acid away from your teeth by simply using water like a mouthwash. Drink a little water, making sure to swill it around your teeth, and then either spit it out or swallow it.

While water may wash away some of the acids, it won't prevent any remaining acid left in your mouth from causing damage. If your acid reflux is a constant problem, it may be better to try to neutralise the acids to prevent them from doing harm.

How to Neutralise Reflux Acids

If you neutralise acids in your mouth with an alkaline substance, you can reduce acid damage. For example, you may find it useful to try the following after an acid attack:

  • Mix a spoon of baking soda with water and use it as a mouthwash. The alkalinity of baking soda will counteract the acids in your mouth, making them less harmful.
  • Eat a small cube of cheese, especially after a meal if you typically have heartburn after eating. Cheese contains nutrients that may discourage acids from sitting on your teeth. If you eat a small piece of cheese when you have heartburn, chewing the cheese may put more saliva in your mouth, which will also help wash away acids. Bear in mind that cheese may not work for everyone; if eating cheese makes your heartburn worse, this is not the right solution for you.
  • Chew on a piece of sugar-free gum. Chewing creates more saliva to wash acids off your teeth. It also helps you get rid of the acidic taste in your mouth when you have heartburn.

Know When to Brush Your Teeth

If you can taste acid in your mouth when you have heartburn, you may want to brush your teeth to get rid of the taste and the acid itself. However, brushing may cause more damage to your teeth if you brush them too soon after the acid comes into your mouth.

Stomach acids initially make the enamel on your teeth weaker than normal. If your teeth are weaker and you brush them, you may increase the chances of enamel damage. It's recommended that you wait for an hour before brushing your teeth after an acid attack to avoid further damage.  

Tip: If you regularly suffer from heartburn and acid reflux when you're pregnant, you may want to talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medications to control your condition that are safe to use in pregnancy. If you can prevent or reduce the amount of acid coming into your mouth in the first place, you'll also protect your teeth.  

For more information, speak with experienced dentists in your area.