Poonum Bharal, DDS is breaking down the myths vs. facts about your teeth during pregnancy.
“Pregnancy ruined my teeth.” As a dentist, I hear this phrase a lot. As a mother, and one who has experienced terrible nausea and vomiting while pregnant, I understand why women say this. Pregnancy is different for each woman – some enjoy every part of the process and others can’t wait for those nine months to be over. One thing is for sure: becoming a mother changes your life. And with that come hormonal and emotional changes as well as adjustments in priorities. Here, I’m demystifying some theories surrounding pregnancy and teeth to provide you with tips on maintaining oral health during and after pregnancy.
Myth: The calcium in baby’s teeth is leeched from mother’s teeth.
Fact: Calcium is needed to help build baby’s teeth and bones, but it should primarily come from expectant mother’s diet and not her body. If the mother does not have an adequate intake of calcium, this essential mineral may come from mother’s calcium stored in her bones. That’s why a healthy diet is important throughout pregnancy.
- Lactose intolerant/vegan? Here are some non-dairy sources of calcium: white beans, kale, broccoli, black-eyed peas, almonds, turnip greens, oranges. In addition, many foods are fortified with calcium. Read the label next time you are at the grocery store.
Myth: Pregnant women should avoid seeing the dentist until after they deliver.
Fact: The best time to visit the dentist for a cleaning and checkup is prior to becoming pregnant to ensure a healthy mouth. However, during pregnancy, the ideal time for a cleaning is during the second trimester. It’s best to avoid the first trimester and second half of the third trimester because these are critical times for baby’s development. An increase of hormones, especially Progesterone, is common during pregnancy. Progesterone, in turn, stimulates the body to produce prostaglandins, which cause inflammation of blood vessels in the gum tissue. This leads to “pregnancy gingivitis,” where gums are inflamed and bleed easily. This usually subsides after pregnancy.
Myth: Brush your teeth immediately after vomiting.
Fact: When vomiting occurs, gastric acid from the stomach enters the mouth. Teeth are not designed to withstand gastric acids, which can erode the enamel on your teeth. This can lead to sensitivity, cavities, and fractures. Brushing immediately after vomiting can further erode vulnerable enamel. Instead, try to rinse with plain water or water with baking soda after vomiting. The baking soda helps to neutralize the acid in your mouth. Then, after 30 minutes, brush with toothpaste containing fluoride.
Myth: Avoid x-rays no matter what during pregnancy.
Fact: Dental x-rays are considered safe for pregnant women, however, are usually avoided unless necessary for diagnosis in certain situations. If you are having pain in your mouth, it is best to visit your dentist for an evaluation. That may mean taking an x-ray, but be assured a lead apron (usually two) with a thyroid collar will be placed on you for protection prior to taking the x-ray. If there is infection in your mouth, it is better to remove it than to risk the baby contracting it. Talk with your dentist if you are experiencing dental pain. Dentists will check with the patient’s OB for a medical clearance and follow the OB’s instructions. Read more about x-rays during pregnancy here.