Everybody knows about morning sickness. It’s probably the most-often heard complaint about pregnancy (and completely justified!), followed by swollen fingers and feet, back pain, and trouble sleeping. But there are some health issues associated with pregnancy that you may not be aware of. Did you know that you are at greater risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and other dental problems when you’re pregnant? Here’s a basic guide to dealing with dental health in pregnancy —what to be aware of, how to prevent problems, and a myth that may or may not be true.
Dental Health In Pregnancy-Potential Risks
Your oral health is at greater risk during pregnancy. It’s always important to keep your teeth clean and healthy, but you need to be even more conscientious when you’re pregnant.
Tooth Decay In Pregnancy
Pregnancy increases the levels of acidity in your mouth, which in turn increases the risk of tooth decay. Morning sickness also increases the risk—excessive vomiting can damage the enamel on your teeth, which leads to further decay. In addition, pregnant women often experience cravings for sugary foods; if you find yourself eating more sugar than usual, make sure you take extra care to brush and floss regularly.
Unhealthy gums during your pregnancy can be caused by hormonal imbalance instead of the usual build-up of plaque. Some scientists claim that gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontal in pregnant women are linked to the premature birth of their babies. So be sensitive when you brush your teeth, especially if your gums are tender (another possible pregnancy side-effect), but make sure you take extra care to keep them clean.
Women often experience loose teeth during pregnancy due to increased amounts of progesterone and estrogen, which can weaken the ligaments and bones supporting the teeth. However, if this condition is caused by hormones (and not other outside factors), it will be temporary and should not cause tooth loss.
You may have had dental work done as a pre-teen or even braces from an orthodontist when you were in school. I did, and I remember it being something that was not cool at that time, and my cousin in the States went to what they call over there a Grande Prairie Orthodontist, which I thought was a funny name. The reality is that regardless of what work you may have had done before, I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys going to the dentist. So you definitely won’t want to have to go back for more dental work after you have your baby because of anything you failed to do to protect your teeth. That’s why it’s far better to make the effort to take care of your teeth so that you don’t have any complications later.
Tell Your Dentist
Make sure you tell your dentist as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Schedule a visit and set up an oral health care plan so that you can ensure that you are doing all you can to stay healthy. Being pregnant affects the way dentists care for your needs; they may choose to postpone x-rays until after pregnancy, and they will know how to avoid anesthetics or medications that may harm the baby.
Keep Good Habits
If you don’t already have good dental hygiene habits, now is the time to form them! Brush at least twice a day and floss regularly. Visit your dentist on a regular basis.
If you have morning sickness, rinse out your mouth with a one tsp of baking soda stirred into one cup of water after vomiting to keep your teeth clean. Do not brush right after vomiting—the gastric acids in vomit will weaken your teeth and brushing immediately after may scratch the enamel.
Increase Calcium Intake
Increasing the amount of calcium you eat during pregnancy will help to keep your bones and teeth healthy and strong. Increase the milk, cheese, and yogurt in your diet, and increase your Vitamin D consumption as well—it will help your body absorb the calcium. Foods that provide Vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon or tuna, cheese, and egg yolks.
Gain a Child…
Apparently there’s an old wives’ tale that claims that for every child a woman has she will lose one of her teeth. Despite the truth in other pregnancy dental health facts, this tale is just that—a story. It probably came from the fact that pregnant woman generally struggle with dental health more when they’re pregnant, but as discussed, that has to do with hormones, calcium deficiency, and the fact that pregnant women just don’t go to the dentist as often.
So don’t worry—the chances of you losing a tooth when you have your child is only a myth…unless you fail to take care of your oral health the way you should. Then tooth loss might be a viable concern!
Connor Adkins enjoys helping people stay fit and healthy. He enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, and finds inspiration for blogging about health issues from companies like Mar Orthodontics.