There are many times when bad breath compounds an already difficult or stressful situation. Whether handling a first date, giving a job interview or waiting in line at the department of motor vehicles, having halitosis can make a tough situation feel twice as tough. Hence a recent rundown by the Daily Monitor’s Connie Nankya of the origins of pregnancy-related bad breath.
The writer says that many women may notice their breath taking on a peculiar stench during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. While expecting mothers can expect an increasingly sensitive nose due to hormone fluctuations, their olfactory glands are not fooling them. Gestational bad breath is real, treatable and, according to obstetrician Godfrey Alia, totally normal.
Hormones are once again the culprit, he says. First of all, changes in progesterone and estrogen can contribute to varying saliva flow. If saliva decreases, the mouth can dry out. Since saliva cleans the teeth and removes food particles from the mouth, a dip in its production can lead to an increase in the growth rate of the anaerobic bacteria that cause bad breath. They grow, and one’s mouth begins to smell foul.
Even if an expecting mother’s salivary levels stay high and keep her mouth healthily moist, hormone fluctuation can alter the oral environment, making even a properly lubricated palate and tongue a potential breeding ground for plaque and gingivitis, both of which tend to exude a sour or sickly funk.
Further affecting a pregnant woman’s breath may be her mineral levels, says Nankya. If a woman is not getting enough calcium, the writer continues, her body may begin to extract it from her own body’s supplies, including the teeth. This mineral reduction makes tooth decay all the more likely. Decaying teeth and infected gums are a primary cause of bad breath, second only to a dried mouth and tongue.
Finally, Nankya writes, simple dietary changes can affect a pregnant woman’s oral odor. Women consume more food during pregnancy to nourish the growing embryo, and they often find their daily diet radically changed as cravings shift the sorts of foods they typically eat. Changes in the daily regimen, particularly an increase in fatty, savory or sweetened foods, may have a deleterious effect on breath and gum health.
To prevent and treat the agents of pregnancy-related halitosis, expectant mothers may consider monitoring their intake of sugar, fats and oils, as well as cleaning the teeth after night-time eating. Also, regular brushing, flossing and use of specialty breath freshening products may eliminate odor-causing bacteria and moisten the tongue and palate to prevent their return.