Looking after Mum – Your Dental Health During Pregnancy and Once Baby Arrives
The birth of your child is a wonderful and exciting time for your family, yet for the nine months of pregnancy leading up to birth, as well as the year after the arrival of your baby, your dental health is at increased risk. Changes in hormones increase your risk ofgum disease, and a change in priorities means that often your needs are put after your baby’s. With a change from your regular sleeping pattern to what can only be described as sleep deprivation , your entire routine is thrown out. Mum’s mealtimes may suffer, with an increased tendency to snack, as well as the chance that daily brushing and flossing are missed in the search for an extra few minutes sleep.
This article will look at exactly what mums can be doing to take care of their dental health at each step in their pregnancy and also once baby has arrived, as well as answer some commonly asked questions.
Prior to Pregnancy:
If you plan to start a family, have a thorough dental examination including necessary radiographs prior to becoming pregnant. Complete all recommended treatment so that your mouth is in great health.
During your pregnancy, you may experience increased appetite, an increased gag reflex when brushing, morning sickness, andsore and bleeding gums. All of these things can have effects on your dental health. There is increasing evidence to show that mums who have gum disease are seven times more likely to have a baby born too early and too small. It is also well understood that if parents of newborns have poor dental health, their baby is more likely to have dental problems as they grow. Good home hygiene practices and regular attendance at your dentist throughout your pregnancy minimise damage to your teeth and risks to your baby. If you are finding difficulty brushing your teeth during pregnancy due to an increased gag reflex, try using a milder tasting tooth paste, or no tooth paste at all. It may be worthwhile using a neutral fluoride mouthrinse to help prevent decay if you are unable to tolerate toothpaste. Most importantly, take the time to visit your expert dentist. The ideal time to visit Jorgensen Mutzelburg Dental is in the second trimester when you and your baby will be most comfortable. The dentist will ask about your pregnancy and will discuss ways to ensure the best health for mum and baby.
The Baby Arrives:
At last, the nine months is over, and your beautiful bundle has arrived. Just when you thought the hard work was over… well, maybe you were wrong. Your baby is totally reliant on you. Whether it’s a feed, a burp, a nappy change, your baby needs your help. It can become overwhelming, and taking a few minutes for yourself is hard to imagine. The most important thing to realise is that your baby needs you, and needs you to be healthy.
As a dentist I often hear mums comment, “My teeth were great until I had my child, then they became chalky and fell apart,” and the reason proposed is “my baby sucked the calcium out of my teeth.” Now the first comment may be an accurate description of the situation, however the second comment is not. Yes, the birth of your child can be the marker of when your teeth have gone from healthy to decayed, however your baby is not the cause. Your body provides everything for your developing child, and your baby does need calcium for its developing bones and teeth. The fact is, this calcium will be from your diet, or your own bones, but definitely not from your teeth.
With all the busy-ness associated with having a new baby, your normal hygiene routine of brushing after breakfast, and brushing and flossing before bed suddenly doesn’t seem to work anymore, as you spend less time in your own bed, and more time waking up every few hours for the next feed. Your own mealtimes become very erratic and the tendency to take quick snacks between baby’s feed times increases. As you can imagine in these conditions, your teeth which may have been perfect before you became pregnant, can be deteriorating fast.
Dentists often hear the words, “bad teeth run in my family.” This is often put forward as an excuse for having decayed teeth, with the person resigning themselves to the fact that they can never have a healthy mouth. The good news is, that while the decay forming bacteria can be passed on from parents to babies, the damage that the bacteria cause iscompletely preventable. There is likely a genetic component that affects the way we deal with these bacteria, and this is something that dentists are continually researching. My three-month-old twin daughters are currently taking part in a long term study in Australia looking at exactly this – how genetics affects the eruption of teeth into the mouth, and how the timing of this eruption may affect the growth of decay forming bacteria.
So how do I ensure I keep my smile in top condition?
Here are the points to remember.
- Tooth decay is a bacterial disease, modified by saliva, diet and lifestyle.
- The bacteria you have in your mouth are largely the same as those that colonised it soon after birth. This has huge implications not only for your own mouth, but your baby’s also.
- By practising the best methods in hygiene, as well as regular attendance at your dentist for maintenance, you can minimise the number of “bad bacteria” that you pass on to your baby, and so reduce the rate of tooth decay in your child. As tempting as it may seem to drop into bed whenever possible once your baby has arrived, never forget to brush your teeth on the way.
While lifestyle change is inevitable with the birth of the baby, we also have an opportunity here to improve our diet. Sugary foodshave long been known to lead to tooth decay. Bacteria feed on these sugars and produce acid that damages your teeth. The good news – you can still enjoy chocolate, just not all the time. It is not so much the quantity of sugar that we consume that leads to decay, but the consistency of consumption. So if you are having snacks every couple of hours while you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is most important that these snacks aren’t sticky and sugary or acidic, like sweet biscuits, dried fruits or certain muesli bars. Try snacking on cheese or sugar-free alternatives like fresh vegetables. Cheese is a great choice as it will help stimulate saliva flow, as well as deliver some much needed calcium to your body. Don’t forget to consider what you are drinking. Increasing your water consumption will naturally maintain good saliva flow, which in turn neutralises acids in your mouth and stomach. Milk is another good choice for your overall health. Restrict fruit juices to main-meal times, and check the label to make sure they have no extra sugar added. Finally, chewing sugar-free gum after meals is a great way to mechanically clean your teeth and stimulate saliva flow.
Looking at all of your own teeth is difficult at the best of times, and if your toothbrush or toothpaste is causing you to gag, then things are even harder. Make a point of visiting your dentist before, during and soon after the birth of your baby. Regular dental visits will keep your mouth in top condition, and allow early identification of any oral health problems. Your dentist at Jorgensen Mutzelburg Dental will be able to provide the best advice for your situation, and make recommendations to keep you smiling into the future.
An old wives’ tale suggests that “You lose a tooth for every child that you bear.” This emphasizes the difficulties you face during pregnancy and following the arrival of your child. Fortunately though, thanks to our better understanding of the science of tooth decay, it need not be true any longer.
My wife and I recently welcomed twin daughters to our family, and understand that there are many questions regarding what is the right thing to do for mum and baby during these changing times. If you have any questions about how to look after your teeth during and after pregnancy or with regards to your dental treatment, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our team at Jorgensen Mutzelburg Dental place great importance on introducing kids to dentistry in a comfortable environment. The practice is located at 730 South Pine Road, corner Old Northern Road, Everton Park, Brisbane. Telephone: 07 3354 1077 or visit online at http://www.jmdental.com.au.
Jorgensen Mutzelburg Dental
Our gentle, caring dentists at Everton Park provide a full range of quality dental services and regularly attend continuing education courses with staff to ensure the highest quality of patient care and best practices. Our dentists have special interests in paediatric dentistry, cosmetic and aesthetic dentistry, reconstructive dentistry for missing and worn teeth, implants, temporomandibular joint disorders, sleep disorders, Invisalign orthodontics for straight teeth, and endodontics. Jorgensen Mutzelburg Dental maintain a patient focus and will design a care plan to meet your needs.
We have the latest, cutting edge technology, and deliver the highest quality care, service and exceptional dentistry at an affordable price.