Caring for Your Teeth and Gums
Contrary to the old wives' tale that you'll lose a tooth with every child, pregnancy is not an automatic damage sentence for your teeth. In fact, with proper home dental care and regular visits to the dentist, your teeth and gums should make it through the pregnancy just fine. The concept of lost teeth during pregnancy seems to be related to calcium deficiency. However, calcium deficiency is linked to bone loss, not the loss of your teeth. If a woman is calcium deficient, her bones (not her teeth) will provide the necessary minerals to the baby until such time as she stops breast feeding. After that, the calcium is quickly replenished. However, the demands of a pregnancy can take a toll on a woman's mouth and can lead to specific dental issues for some women.
Caring for Teeth and Gums Cares for Baby
Studies as recent as 2010 have shown that periodontal disease is a real and possible cause for poor pregnancy outcomes in women with the condition. The link between gum disease in pregnant women and premature birth with low birth weight has also been confirmed through research. In a revised study completed in May, 2010, (Dolapo, A. Babalola and Folashade, Omole) it was stated that an increasing number of studies are confirming an association between periodontal disease (PD) and adverse outcomes in pregnancy. PD places pregnant women at greater risk for preterm birth than alcohol consumption or smoking. This underscores the importance of offering dental screening to women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy and the need for physicians who provide obstetric care to be aware of the possible connection between poor dental health and poor pregnancy outcomes.
It is estimated that about 18 of every 100 premature births may be triggered by periodontal disease and the risk can be reduced by more than 80 percent with appropriate dental treatment.
Simple Ways to Care for Teeth and Gums
Of course, the best defense is a good offence - and the best way to avoid dental problems during pregnancy is to have good oral hygiene habits before you conceive. Simple and effective habits are:
· brushing twice a day (morning and night) with fluoridated toothpaste
· flossing daily
· regular visits to the dentist
If you are planning a pregnancy, be sure to visit your dentist before conception to take care of any serious dental needs. Elective procedures will have to wait before being undertaken if you are already pregnant. And, be sure to tell your dentist if you're pregnant because pregnancy may have an effect upon your dental care. X-rays can be delayed until after the baby is born. However, if there is no recourse, then the dentist can take extra precautions to ensure the safety of your baby should there be a need for exposure to x-rays.
Caring for Teeth and Gums Diverts Problems
Dental problems do occur in pregnancy and there are some causes that are quite common:
· gum problems
· cravings for sugary foods
· retching while brushing your teeth
Pregnancy hormones can have far reaching effects, even on your gums. Some of the negative results to the mouth and gums due to pregnancy hormones include:
· Gingivitis, which is a gum inflammation, is more likely to arrive in the second trimester. Swelling and bleeding, usually while brushing and flossing the teeth is a common indications of this condition.
· Periodontal disease that has not been diagnosed or treated can be exacerbated by chronic gum infection. Untreated infections can lead to tooth loss.
What happens in pregnancy is that the increased hormone levels cause an extreme response to plaque on the teeth. It isn't that the plaque is causing the problem - it's hormones (of course).
How to Avoid Damage to Teeth and Gums During Pregnancy
Some things you can do to help with gum problems are:
· tell your dentist about any gum problems you've been experiencing
· use a soft toothbrush instead of a firmer one
· brush regularly (two times a day)
· use a fluoridated toothpaste to help fortify teeth
One of our favorite pregnancy symptoms is vomiting and both gastric reflux and vomiting can affect the teeth because of the strong stomach acids that end up in the mouth in both cases. If either reflux or vomiting are chronic and happen often, your teeth can be seriously affected. The first thing to do for your teeth is to rinse your mouth with water immediately following vomiting or reflux then use mouthwash that has fluoride in it. If you don't have a fluoridated mouthwash, rub some fluoride toothpaste on your teeth. Brushing may take off a layer of enamel, so wait at least a half hour to brush your teeth.
Sometimes reaching to the back of the mouth to brush the molars can cause retching. Use a small toothbrush with a small head to avoid gagging and ultimately retching. Take the time you need and brush slowly, concentrating on your breathing. For some women, even the smell of the toothpaste is too much. If that is you, use water and then use a fluoridated mouthwash to finish up.
Food cravings, especially cravings for sweets, can wreak havoc on your teeth. If you can't get away from the sweet craving, choose the healthiest sweets you can, like fresh fruit. Be sure to rinse your mouth after you ingest a sugary treat.
Increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body assimilate the calcium effectively. Get your calcium through milk, cheese, yogurt, and calcium fortified drinks. The best source of vitamin D is the sun - at least 15 minutes a day on your arms, chest, back and legs. Food sources include cheese, fatty fish such as salmon and eggs.
Taking good care of your teeth may be one of the best things you can do to ensure the health of your baby. To learn more about dental care during pregnancy, be sure to visit our site and check out the article on the subject.
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