Ask any pregnant mom and she will tell you that her pregnancy took its toll on many parts of her body, but the most significant attack was on her pearly whites.
Pregnancy is hard on the mouth, with many women suffering from morning sickness (which means constant vomiting and stomach acid attacking the teeth and gums).
It isn’t hard to imagine the type of damage this leaves on the teeth, long after the baby is born.
Luckily, there are many dental insurance plans one can join in South Africa, to assist in fighting bad dental hygiene. Certain mouth conditions can affect the development and growth of the unborn child.
But the most interesting part of what happens to a mommy-to-be’s mouth is the old wives tale; have a baby, lose a tooth.
Up until recently, this has only been a quip shared in informal chats and jokes with and between moms and preggos, but now researchers are saying that this may very well be true.
Turns out, pregnancy hormones compromise the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
BountyRoad Dental says that the increase of oestrogen and progesterone in your system affects the blood supply to the gum tissues, making them more sensitive. In addition, these lower the body’s response to plaque or calculus (tartar), which makes them susceptible to redness, swelling or bleeding of gums, and eventually tooth loss.
Writing in the Journal of Epidemology & Community Health, Professor Stefan Listl, of the Department of Dentistry, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands, said: “Our study provides unique and novel evidence for causal links between the number of natural children and missing teeth”, reports the Telegraph UK in a recent article.
“On basis of our findings, enhanced promotion of oral hygiene, tooth-friendly nutrition, and regular (preventive) dental attendance – specifically targeted at expecting and parenting mothers – seem to be sensible strategies for clinicians and health policy.
“An additional birth might be detrimental to the mother’s but not the father’s oral health.”
The study also investigated the impact of having twins or triplets, and the potential increase in risks.
It found that having a third child after two of the same sex was associated with significantly more missing teeth for women.
This suggests that an additional child might be detrimental to the mouth health.
The average age of the respondents was 67, and they reported an average of 10 missing teeth. Normally adults have 28 plus four wisdom teeth in their mouth, the article continued.
Now, researchers note that pregnant women with gum disease are at risk of giving birth prematurely or having underweight babies. Periodontal disease may trigger 18 out of every 100 premature births.
This is especially worrying, as dental work is mostly prohibited in the second and third trimester.
Pregnant moms often have to suffer for month with painful cavities and various mouth conditions, also causing them unnecessary stress.
But the good news is, a lot of these symptoms are avoidable.
According to Better Health, pregnancy does not automatically damage your teeth. If the mother’s intake of calcium is inadequate during pregnancy, her bones – not her teeth – will provide the calcium her growing baby needs.
With proper hygiene at home and professional help from your dentist, and the right dental insurance, your teeth should remain healthy throughout pregnancy.
The ToothFairy Blog gives great tips for taking care of your choppers during your pregnancy.
- When you experience morning sickness, do not brush immediately. The acidic nature of the vomit may have softened the teeth’s enamel. Rather invest in a good mouth wash.
- If you can, make an appointment before falling pregnant so that your dentist can x-ray your teeth and you can fight any preexisting conditions ASAP.
- Brush twice a day.
- Stop eating an hour before bed.
- Do not brush bleeding gums! It only causes more damage. Bleeding gums are probably more likely during pregnancy because of all of the hormones racing around your body. If you do notice any bleeding please don’t stop brushing your teeth! The bleeding is a sign of inflammation and a message that you need to brush more, not less. If the bleeding persists for more than 3 days, please make an appointment to see your dentist.
- Try to keep your ‘intakes’ down to a maximum of 5 per day. An ‘intake’ is anything you eat or drink which contains any form of sugar. So one biscuit or your lunch both count as an intake. This matters because every time we have anything to eat or drink, the bacteria in our mouths begin to metabolise (use) this sugar and in doing so they make acid which, yes you guessed it, makes holes in our teeth. It takes your mouth around 30 minutes to counteract this attack.
- So, if you want to win the battle, try to avoid grazing, sipping on fizzy drinks and cut out the sugar in your tea and coffee. If you want chocolate – have it as a treat with a meal, same goes for fizzy drinks. That way you still get the occasional sweet hit you crave, but it does not cause as much damage to your teeth.