Earlier this month Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge was forced to cancel her trips overseas due to suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Although many people think it’s just a form of morning sickness this couldn’t be further from the truth, it is a much more severe and debilitating condition. People suffering from this condition experience severe and prolonged vomiting as often as 50 times a day! This can lead to dehydration, ketosis, weight loss and low blood pressure.
The impact on your overall health and oral health is serious, and you must seek medical attention straight away if you think you are experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum.
Below is some information and advice on the dangers of hyperemesis gravidarum to your oral health.
The backs of your teeth, where you don’t look are at risk – when you vomit the acid from the stomach comes into contact with the enamel of your teeth and cause erosion especially on the backs of teeth that most people won’t look at or notice.
Don’t Brush after vomiting
Due to the unpleasant taste and smell from being sick, it is natural to want to brush your teeth to freshen your mouth. Brushing teeth immediately after vomiting can cause softening of the protective enamel surfaces of the teeth because the acid from the stomach weakens the tooth structure. The best thing to do is rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash and wait at least an hour before brushing. Duraphat 2800 or 5000 toothpaste can be prescribed by your dentist – this contains more fluoride to reduce the risk of decay if you are at risk – remember to spit only and not rinse
Beware of dehydration and gum inflammation
Dehydration from the vomiting can cause a dry mouth which can lead to gum inflammation and also increased the risk of decay to the teeth. Drink as much water as possible to keep well hydrated; mint water is great as the mint flavour is very kind to the stomach as is ginger – I know this helps me. If you cannot keep down more than 500ml of water a day, seek immediate medical advice.
Your teeth may turn yellow
The tooth erosion caused by the acid can cause the teeth to look more yellow due to loss of enamel, showing more dentine which is yellow.
Your teeth may become sensitive
Erosion can also make teeth more sensitive to cold, hot fluids and even touch, be sure to brush with toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
Brushing can trigger vomiting so follow my top tips to avoid this:
- Start on the back teeth so the taste buds which may trigger vomiting are not set off straight away
- Use a small electric toothbrush head
- The gag reflex is more heightened in the morning – use a fluoride mouthwash in the morning and brush later in the day
- Wiggling your toes and tiptoeing while brushing (but go steady) may also help control the gagging as it allows your mind to concentrate on something else.
- Acupressure may also help but check with your doctor that this is safe for you to do so.
- Good breathing technique will also help – nice deep breaths through the nose.
There are treatments for erosion
If enamel has been lost, don’t worry we can build this up using a white filling material without any drilling of discomfort but obviously, prevention is key.