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Pregnant? 9 Questions You May Have About Your Dental Health

Do I Need to Change My Daily Habits?

If you are brushing two times every day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth once per day, keep doing awesome! If not, there’s no better time to begin, as bad habits during pregnancy have been related to unexpected labor, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. Talk with your dentist about your daily oral hygiene routine and ask for suggestions for any improvements. 

Why Are My Gums Bleeding?

Pregnancy brings many changes to your body and hormones, which can include gum inflammation and bleeding most often between the second and eighth months of pregnancy. It often goes away on its own after the baby is born. Pregnancy hormones make your gums more susceptible to plaque which can make your gums red, delicate and sore. Brush two times a day for two minutes, clean between your teeth once every day, and talk with your dentist about what you can do to keep your gums healthy.

Do You Lose a Tooth with Each Baby?

No! This is an old wives’ tale. Losing a tooth is certainly not an ordinary part of pregnancy. If you are experiencing dental pain you might have a dental issue that is unrelated to pregnancy, and you should see your dentist. 

I’m Struggling with Morning Sickness. What Should I Do?

Sadly, morning sickness is experienced by many pregnant women. Vomiting can cause stomach acids to come in contact with your teeth, so be sure to flush your mouth to keep those acids from doing harm. You might be tempted to reach for your toothbrush right away, but if you are vomiting frequently, try rinsing your mouth with a blend of some water and 1 tsp. of baking soda, as the baking soda will neutralize the acid. 

Is It Safe to See the Dentist During Pregnancy?

Yes! Actually, your dental specialist may prescribe extra cleanings during your second trimester and early third trimester to help control gum disease. If your last dental visit was over 6-months ago or you see any changes in your mouth, visit your dentist. Let your dentist know if there are any changes in the medications you take or any chance that you have gotten any unique counsel from your doctor. Always let your dentist and dental hygienist know that you are expecting.

Help! Brushing Makes Me Gag.

If anything (and potentially everything) may make you gag, move slowly and find what works for you. Changing the kind of toothpaste used, utilizing a brush with a smaller head, or brushing at various times of the day may help. If you absolutely cannot stomach brushing your teeth, make sure you at least rinse and spit regularly, and return to brushing your teeth as soon as possible. The most important thing is to keep up your routine because you’re at somewhat greater risk for cavities, on account of corrosive acid from morning sickness, potential dietary changes, and feeling too worn out to even consider brushing.

Does What I Eat Affect My Baby’s Teeth?

Your baby’s teeth start to develop between the 3rd and 6th month of pregnancy, and eating a healthy diet while pregnant can help to make sure they develop correctly. Make sure your diet includes enough nutrients– including vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous. While you’re at it, drink a lot of water with fluoride to keep your own teeth solid.

Are X-Rays Safe During Pregnancy?

Yes, dental X-rays are safe during pregnancy. Your dentist or hygienist will cover you with a protective cover that limits exposure to the abdomen. Your dental office will also cover your throat with a collar to shield the thyroid from radiation.

Is It Safe to Have a Dental Procedure?

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that dental fillings and crowns are safe during pregnancy, and that it is important to seek dental care promptly. It might not be comfortable to sit in a dental seat very late in pregnancy, so make sure to keep up with regular dental appointments, and plan to have any dental work in your first and second trimester, if possible. Cosmetic procedures such as whitening, on the other hand, can wait until after the baby arrives. In the event that you need emergency treatment, work with your dental office on the best arrangements for you and your child.

Erosion: Reflux, Upset Stomach, and Your Teeth

Frequent upset stomach can cause a gradual eroding of the protecting enamel on your teeth, a process called tooth erosion. This may have an effect on the physical appearance of your teeth and can also open the door to harmful bacteria that cause cavities.

How do stomach issues have an effect on my teeth?

Your stomach produces natural acids that facilitate your body in digestion of food. Sometimes, these acids travel up the throat and into the mouth, particularly after an oversized meal. Ordinarily, our saliva rebalances the acid levels in our mouth naturally, and everything’s fine. 

But for people who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux, also known as acid reflux or GERD, stomach acids reach the mouth throughout the day. Reflux can be especially damaging during sleep because you swallow less than normal and your mouth manufactures less saliva when you are sleeping.

Another concern is dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, which can be caused by medications, including several acid reflux medicines.  Saliva not only helps neutralize the acids caused by acid reflux, but also helps to clean away food particles and cut back on bacteria that can attack your tooth enamel. This is often why lower saliva production might increase your risk for cavities. 

What will Reflux-Related Erosion do to my teeth?

Acid reflux might wear away the enamel on the surfaces of your teeth. Your dentist can check for this at your regular dental exam.

Unfortunately, tooth erosion is permanent. If your enamel has begun to wear away, you may:

• Feel pain or sensitivity when you consume hot, cold or sweet drinks

• Notice a discoloration of the teeth

• Find that your fillings have changed

• Face larger risks for cavities over time

• Experience tooth loss

Once erosion of the enamel happens, you might need dental treatment such as: fillings, crowns, a root canal, or even tooth extraction in order to prevent pain and further risk. For cosmetic discoloration, veneers can help to restore the look of your smile. 

How to defend your teeth and obtain relief?

• Chewing sugar-free gum will encourage saliva production, which helps neutralize and wash away the acids in your mouth. Check for the ADA Seal of Acceptance on the gum you choose.

• Using prescription or over the counter fluoride and desensitizing toothpaste can help to strengthen tooth enamel. 

• Avoiding alcohol and smoking and refraining from eating for three hours before bed might cut back the frequency of acid reflux episodes.

• If heartburn, acid reflux or alternative stomach issues are a part of your everyday life, work together with your dentist and physician to treat the underlying causes of your stomach troubles. 

• If you suffer from acid reflux, see your dentist frequently so that they will check that your teeth stay healthy, suggest ways to stop tooth erosion, and recommend ways to prevent dry mouth.

Diet and Dental Health

Your body is a complex machine. The foods you select and the way you eat them will have an effect on your general health and therefore the health of your teeth and gums, too. If you consume too many sugar-filled sodas, sweet fruit drinks, or non-nutritious snacks, you may be in danger of tooth decay. Diet can be especially important for children’s dental health, as tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood illness, however, the good news is that it’s entirely preventable.

Tooth decay happens once plaque comes in contact with sugar within the mouth. Plaque bacteria feed on sugar, and cause acid which eats away at the tooth enamel.

Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to decay. To manage the quantity of sugar you eat, scan the nutrition facts and ingredient labels on foods and beverages and opt for choices low in sugar. Your doctor or a registered specialist may offer suggestions for a healthy diet. If your diet lacks certain nutrients, it’s going to be harder for tissues in your mouth to resist infection, which can contribute to gum disease. Severe gum disease may be a major reason behind tooth loss in adults. Several researchers believe that gum disease is more severe and progresses more quickly in people with poor nutrition.

To learn what foods are best for you, visit ChooseMyPlate.Gov, an internet site from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The site contains dietary recommendations for kids and adults based on their levels of physical activity.

Wise selections

For healthy living and for healthy teeth and gums, think before you eat and drink. It’s not only what you eat, but also when you eat that may have an effect on your dental health. Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks. If you’re on a special diet, keep your physician’s recommendation in mind when selecting foods.

For good dental health, keep the following tips in mind when selecting your meals and snacks:

• Drink plenty of water.

• Eat a variety of foods that include

         o Whole grains

         o Fruits

         o Vegetables

         o Low-fat and fat-free dairy foods

Limit the number of snacks you eat. If you are eating a snack, opt for one thing that’s healthy like fruit or vegetables or a piece of cheese. Foods that are eaten as a part of a meal cause less damage to teeth than eating multiple snacks throughout the day, because a lot of saliva is discharged through a meal. Saliva helps wash foods from the mouth and lessens the effect of acids, which may hurt teeth and cause cavities. For good dental health, keep in mind to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, floss daily, and visit your dental practitioner frequently. With regular visits, your dentist can help to catch any potential problems, and provide the necessary treatment right away while the problem is manageable and simple to treat.

Facts you should know about Gum Disease

Gum disease is very common

You might assume that gum disease is not very common, but it is actually one of the most common dental health concerns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of adults over the age 30 suffer from some form of gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. Gum disease is caused by plaque which can eventually harden into calculus or tartar, if not removed with thorough daily brushing and flossing.

Cavities and gum disease don’t always go together

Being cavity-free doesn’t ensure you do not have gum disease. Because gum disease is often painless, many people have no idea if they are at risk. Gums that bleed easily or are red, swollen or tender can be a sign of gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease and the only stage that is reversible.

Having gum disease does not mean your teeth will fall out

You won’t lose any of your teeth to gum disease if you practice good oral hygiene. That means brushing your teeth twice a day, cleaning between your teeth daily, eating a healthy diet, and scheduling regular dental visits. Gum disease does not mean your oral health is doomed.

Bleeding gums during pregnancy are normal

While it’s true that some women develop a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” it’s not true that everyone experiences this. You can help prevent this condition by taking extra care during your brushing and flossing routine. Your dentist may also recommend more frequent cleanings to help you maintain your oral health during pregnancy.

Bad breath can be an indicator of gum disease

Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth can be an indicator of gum disease and other oral diseases, so it is important that you understand what is causing this problem. If you constantly have bad breath, make an appointment to see your dentist. Regular check-ups allow your dentist to detect any problems as your bad breath may be a sign of a medical disorder. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to another non-dental physician.

I have diabetes. Will I get gum disease?

Diabetes is a chronic disease which affects your body’s ability to process sugar. Diabetes can also lower your resistance to infection and can slow the healing process. If you have diabetes, you are at greater risk of developing some oral health problems, including gum disease, so it’s important that you are extra diligent with your oral health.

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