Expecting mothers bear the brunt of a lot of things. And now, dental health is one of them. For one, pregnancy can alter their hormones. This alteration affects the way their bodies process things, like how to handle plaque. For another, pregnancy has its share of demands that may affect a mother's dental health. For instance, lactation can put a bender on a mother's bones to provide an adequate amount of calcium in their milk. How, then, should pregnant mothers approach their oral health?
Answer: as carefully as possible. Some mothers might be wary of going to the dentist at this point. Most of this concern could stem from worries about the baby. Fortunately, these fears are unfounded. Dental check-ups are usually safe for pregnant women and their babies. Getting an oral check-up at this point is crucial to a mother's overall health. During the check-up, dentists can lookout for any signs of pregnancy-related complications that could develop down the line.
That said, if you're an expecting mother who wants to zoom in on their oral health, here are some things you can do:
Know where you're at risk
While pregnant, you might find yourself at risk of certain diseases. These risks often vary per mother. Some women go through their pregnancies without experiencing any of these issues at all. Regardless, understanding the risks can help prevent them from escalating.
Here are some common problems during pregnancy:
Increased risk of gingivitis. While pregnant, your hormones might cause a more inflammatory response to plaque build-up than they would pre-pregnancy. This response often results in a type of gingivitis that occurs during pregnancy.
Worsened dental conditions. If you have poor oral health before pregnancy, chances are it'll heighten during it. Morning sickness can bring about more significant exposure to acid in the mouth, which could then exacerbate existing cavities. And if you have any periodontal diseases, they might flare up further.
Effects on the baby. Aside from dental flare-ups, your oral problems might be hurting your baby. Some studies have shown a correlation between poor dental health and premature delivery. Babies born prematurely makes them vulnerable to a slew of health problems, a good portion of which affects their development.
Lack of calcium. During lactation, your body may lose some bone to provide calcium for your milk. This breakdown can affect your teeth and make them more susceptible to decay.
Dry mouth and metallic taste: Dysgeusia, a condition when there is a change in taste when eating. Most of the time, food may taste metallic. You will also experience a dry mouth because of the decreased salivary production. This could lead to gum problems like gingivitis.
Tooth enamel erosion: There is a high risk of tooth enamel erosion because of gastric acid release during morning sickness vomiting.
Mitigate your risk
If you're susceptible to any of the above, the first step to take is to lower your risk. The best way is to keep your oral hygiene routine. Following it, however, might be easier said and done.
You might find yourself more nauseous and exhausted throughout your pregnancy. If you find yourself having difficulties, you can make the needed adjustments to make brushing and flossing a little more pleasant. These adjustments can include changing your toothbrush and toothpaste to your preference and going gentler with the brushstrokes.
Besides this, consulting your dentist is always an indispensable resource, especially during your life. During the consultation, your dentist can help treat your current oral issues to stop them from flaring up and prescribe a course of action to help you throughout your pregnancy.
Finally, you might want to watch what you eat to prevent any deficiencies. While you may lose a bit of bone density while lactating, it's also a time where you are more likely to absorb calcium from food. That said, eating calcium-rich food should be enough to help you bounce back once your baby weans off the milk.
Tell Your Dentist You're Pregnant
It's important to tell your dentist you're pregnant. He or she will make necessary adjustments, including whether to take x-rays.
Keeping Your Mouth Healthy while Pregnant
You can save trips going to your dentist by taking preventive measures to avoid gum problems. Here are some easy solutions:
- Brush and floss regularly: It is imperative to be vigilant in taking care of your teeth because plaque formation can build up if you forget to brush your teeth. Use fluoride toothpaste, and make sure to use the proper techniques when brushing your teeth. Don't forget to floss because floss can reach the places where your toothbrush can't. Brush and floss your teeth at least two times a day to take good care of your teeth.
- Rinse with mouthwash: Millions of microbes build up in your mouth every day. Therefore, rinse them away with an excellent antibacterial mouthwash.
- Eat healthy meals: Protect your teeth by eating healthy foods. Eat foods high in calcium, protein, and packed with vitamins because they can protect your teeth from gum diseases. Avoid starchy, sugary foods; bacteria thrive the most on these.
4 Things all Nursing Moms Need to Know
Breastfeeding is one of the first decisions a mom makes for her child. This can significantly help the baby combat infections and reduce various health risks such as SIDS, asthma, obesity, and ear infections.
This is also beneficial to moms since breastfeeding may help reduce the likelihood of developing ovarian and breast cancer. But many are unaware of the reality that breastfeeding can have an impact on the health of both a mother and her baby.
Here are a few important things mothers should know about nursing and dental health:
1. Moms who breastfeed must inform their dentist.
It is essential for a mother to inform her dentist that she is breastfeeding when a dental procedure is necessary. Some medications can have an effect on the baby as they may enter the baby’s system through breastfeeding. However, there are some medications which moms can take. This is why it is vital to inform the dentist at once, so they can prescribe the appropriate medication for you.
2. Breast milk does not actually ward off cavities in infants.
Although breast milk is more nutritious than formula available on the market, this still contains sugar which could cause cavities to develop. Indeed, it is very valuable to start caring for an infant’s teeth as soon as they are born. With the use of a wet and soft cloth, wipe the baby’s gums once a day. Meanwhile, when the baby’s first tooth emerges, start brushing two times per day using a pea size of fluoride toothpaste.
3. It is pivotal to maintain proper oral hygiene practices.
The baby’s welfare is not the only thing that a mother should pay attention to. It is also crucial for the mother to take better care of herself. Take into consideration that maintaining good oral hygiene practices is imperative so that the teeth and gums stay in good condition.
It is also worthy to note that the act of sharing a spoon with your infant can transmit cavity-causing bacteria to the infant’s mouth. Moms need to be aware of bruxism as well. This pertains to gnashing or grinding of teeth at night as a result of postnatal stress. Discuss this with the dentist so they can recommend a custom-made mouthguard for you.
4. Nursing moms can keep feeding after an infant’s teeth emerge.
In reality, there is no rule that points out when a mom should stop breastfeeding her baby. Furthermore, it is absolutely healthy to continue to do so after the infant’s teeth have come through. Moms should focus on what is beneficial for herself and her child.
However, if breastfeeding becomes painful after your infant’s teeth emerge, consider pumping your breast milk and feeding it to your baby via a bottle.
Due to all these reasons, it is critical that new moms continue making regular dental appointments. This way, their dentist can provide them with necessary medication, treatment, and advice to keep their oral health and that of their child in good condition.