When you and your partner choose to grow your family, it is one of the most exciting times in your life. While you’re probably busy preparing to bring a new life into this world, there may be certain challenges that you face. One such challenge is knowing what advice you should be listening to and how to spot some common myths that you will undoubtedly hear. This can be overwhelming, especially for first time parents. How do you know who or what to listen to?
As a dentist who’s been practicing for more than 20 years, it’s been my goal to help educate expecting mothers and their partner’s on how to have the best dental health and debunk some myths that you might have heard. Dental care during pregnancy is extremely important and hopefully this information will help you during this exciting time in your life.
Myth #1: Pregnancy Has No Effect on Your Dental Health
A common myth about pregnancy is that it doesn’t affect your mouth or your dental health. However, this is a myth that simply is not true. Your changing hormones during pregnancy can actually affect your oral health a lot. In fact, pregnant women are at a greater risk for certain dental issues such as gum disease and pregnancy tumors because of these rapidly changing hormones. Gum disease and pregnancy tumors can cause preterm births and low birth weights so it’s important to be aware of these issues. Both of these conditions are treatable, however, so be sure that you visit your dentist during your pregnancy and seek treatment as needed.
To help prevent gum disease and tooth decay you should also continue with an effective oral care routine at home. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and rinsing with mouthwash. Also, because you may experience cravings during your pregnancy, try to limit sugary drinks and snacks as they can lead to tooth decay. Taking care of your dental health during pregnancy is important so try not to neglect it.
Myth #2: You Should Avoid Dental Work During Your Pregnancy
Another myth pregnant women often hear is that they should avoid dental work altogether while pregnant. However, it’s actually extremely important to receive dental care to help prevent gum disease. You will need to have regular cleanings and exams during your pregnancy.
Do note that for treatments that involve sedation (including cavity fillings), it’s best to hold off these procedures until your second trimester as this is the time when it will be safest and most comfortable for you and your baby.
If you’re worried about any adverse effects, it may even be possible for you to postpone these types of procedures until after the birth of your baby. However, if you experience a dental emergency, you may need to undergo a dental procedure anyway to make sure you and your baby are safe and healthy.
Finally, it’s also best to postpone any cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening until after the birth as well. These procedures are often not necessary so it’s important to stray away from exposing any harsh chemicals to you and your baby.
Myth #3: Your Risk of Gum Disease & Tooth Decay Stops After Pregnancy
After you give birth, you will still be bombarded with information on breastfeeding and parenting. One thing that new mothers sometimes hear is that their increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay stops after they give birth. However, breastfeeding mothers may still experience many of the same dental issues that they did during pregnancy.
The risk of oral disease and decay does not automatically go away after you have given birth. In fact, women who are nursing may experience up to 5 percent bone loss which can lead to gingivitis. Some women may also experience teeth grinding during nursing due to soreness of the face and neck.
If you are breastfeeding keep a close eye on your dental health and make sure that you make time to visit the dentist after your baby is born. Also, you will need to be eating in a calorie surplus to be able to breastfeed. During this time, many dentists and doctors recommend that mothers try to maintain a diet that is low in sugar to prevent tooth decay and continue their effective dental care routine at home.
Growing a family is a beautiful part of life and pregnancy is a special experience for women. While you’re probably feeling excited, there may be some challenges that you are facing with pregnancy as well. One thing that often gets overlooked while a woman is pregnant is dental health. Dental care during pregnancy can be confusing, but having a healthy mouth is important for the safety of you and for your baby. Don’t skip out on visiting the dentist and continue taking care of your oral health during this time as you prepare to welcome a little one into this world.