Pregnancy Dental Health Facts

Pregnancy and your oral health care. 

Having babies does not cause you to lose teeth.

If you lose a tooth during your pregnancy it will be from some other cause.

There’s an old wives tale about losing calcium from your teeth to feed your baby.

Plain and simple, this is a myth.

Calcium for your baby comes from your diet and nutrition, not your teeth!

If your body is lacking calcium then you need to make up for it in your diet whether it be increasing your intake of foods high in calcium or taking a supplement.

That does not mean that dental care isn’t important while pregnant, it just means don’t listen to old wives tales and take your guidance from your physician.

There is one area of dental health that you should pay attention to at all times, but especially when you are pregnant.

If you notice that your gums become swollen and you are pregnant, you should schedule an appointment to see your dentist and rule out periodontitis, a serious gum disease.

Some research has shown that low birth weight and premature birth are linked to serious gum disease.

Practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing properly taking special care to clean around the gum line.

To control gingivitis, you might want to increase your cleanings to include after all food intake during the second and third trimester.

Continue regular dental visits and treatments making certain that your dentist is aware of your pregnancy.

One thing to avoid if you are or suspect that you are pregnant are x-rays.

Grinding your teeth. 

Do you grind or clench your teeth? The medical term for this condition is “bruxism.”

Many people are not even aware they have this condition because it is done in their sleep. If you find yourself waking up in the morning with a painful jaw, earache, toothache or headache, this might be the cause.

Bruxism is potentially dangerous for the overall health of your teeth because the grinding and gnashing can wear away the enamel on the surface of the tooth.

As the grinding continues and more enamel is removed the layer of actual dentin may be exposed. This can cause your teeth to become sensitive to hot and cold.

This condition would also remove you as a candidate for any type of cosmetic dental work until the tooth is repaired.

Causes for bruxism are not well known, although stress, insomnia and a “bad bite” are some suggestions.

There is treatment available for bruxism and the best detection will occur at your regular dental checkup.

Sensitive teeth. 

Does a shot of hot coffee in your mouth cause you to cringe with pain? Or does a nice bite of ice cream send you through the ceiling?

This is caused by exposing the layers of dentin below the enamel. The exposed portion of your tooth (above the gum line) is covered with enamel and the lower portion (beneath the gum line) is covered with cementum.

This is what protects the softer material beneath it which is called “dentin.”

When the dentin is exposed the nerve endings are susceptible to changes in temperature, pressure and so on.

This can be caused by combination of problems. Grinding of the teeth that creates wear on the enamel, cracking or chipping a tooth and periodontal disease are all possible culprits.

There are several different treatment options depending on the severity of the problem. That can only be diagnosed by your dentist so make certain you schedule your regular checkups.

Antibiotics and dental care. 

Certain physical conditions cause interaction with some medications. The circumstances that determine whether special care needs to be taken with regard to your dental treatments are heart conditions and joint replacement.

One situation that should be approached with care is Bacterial Endocarditis. Your dentist may recommend a regimen of antibiotics prior to your dental treatment to insure that you are protected should there be any blood loss during the treatment.

This is normally done as a precaution to combat potential bacterial infection. Some of the heart conditions that would fall under this category are:

• Recent heart surgery
• Congenital heart defect
• Artificial heart valve
• Recent vascular surgery
• Heart murmur
• Rheumatic fever
• Previous bacterial endocarditis
• Pacemaker

If any of these apply to your situation or you are seeing a new dentist for the first time, make certain that the dentist is fully aware of your medical history.

The same course of action should be taken if you have had joint replacement for the same reason, a precaution to combat potential bacterial infection.

Other high risk situations apply as well. If any of the following conditions apply to you advise your dentist:

• Hemophilia
• Malnourishment
• Type 1 insulin dependent
• Cancer
• HIV
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Immunosuppression
• Also make certain that you keep your dentist apprised of any changes in your health and medications.

Other drug information. 

If you take aspirin or any other anticoagulants like heparin or warfarin, make sure your dentist is aware of it.

These are great drugs for preventing heart disease and stroke, but might cause a problem while undergoing oral surgery or periodontal treatments.

Pesky cold and canker sores. 

These are the two most common mouth sores. They are annoying, unattractive and painful.

Canker sores are found inside of the mouth and usually begin as a bump or red spot.

No one knows what causes them but genetics does have some role. It’s believed that white blood cells in the immune system cause these nasty little things to appear in the mouth lining.

Stress, fatigue and maybe some foods are theorized to be contributors. Since there is no known cause, there is obviously no cure. Thankfully, they do disappear in 7 to 10 days

Cold sores are a different story. They appear on and around the lips as small blisters that are filled with fluid. They are sometimes referred to as fever blisters. There can also be clusters of them on the gums or the roof of the mouth.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus. Highly contagious, the virus will remain in the body throughout the lifetime. Most of the time it will remain dormant, but it does periodically activate causing the sores to appear.

The sores will usually heal in about a week or so. An ugly scab will appear after the blister breaks. About the only thing that can be done is to apply a topical ointment to treat discomfort.

If you detect any changes in the cold or canker sores, or discover some other type of unrecognizable lesion, contact your dentist for an appointment.

The dentist is familiar with most conditions having to do with the mouth and can readily make a diagnosis.

Remember, you are born with two sets of teeth. The first set were your “training teeth.” The second set are irreplaceable.

Treat them with the care they deserve and they will serve you faithfully throughout your lifetime.