Having a baby in itself is a miracle, and brings the parents so much happiness.
But, with happiness come new experiences and some health issues too.
Your dental health might get affected because of your pregnancy.
Even breastfeeding causes more oral issues.
You have to take care of your teeth during pregnancy as well as post-pregnancy, especially if you are breastfeeding.
In this article, I will tell you what oral issues you face because of pregnancy and how you can take good postpartum dental care.
So, let’s begin.
What is Dental care?
Dental care, also known as oral hygiene is the way of keeping your mouth clean and free of disease. This can be done by regularly brushing your teeth and flossing. Oral hygiene needs to be carried out on regular basis else you will either have bad breath or some other dental issues. Dental care is not limited to brushing your teeth or flossing only. What you eat or smoke also affects your oral health. And at times even if you did proper care, you can still face dental issues because of pregnancy, etc.
How to Keep Your Oral Health Intact During Pregnancy
There are many misconceptions associated with pregnancy, one of them is regarding safety of treating oral issues of a pregnant women. Teeth cleaning, cavity fillings, dental crowns and gum diseases are left untreated. But dental treatment while being pregnant is completely safe so you can easily get your treatments done.
· Regular Teeth Cleanings, X-rays & Dental Exams
Get your teeth cleaned, dental exams and x-rays are safe during pregnancy. It is also important that you visit your dentist bi-annually to get preventive care. And in case you’re dental health is not good, then your dentist may even recommend more visits while you are pregnant. If it is just restorative work, it is better to get it done before the third trimester of your pregnancy. But if you need dental implants, that need sedatives, it is better to wait for the delivery. Other cosmetic treatment and professional teeth whitening should also be done after giving birth.
· Food Choices and Nutrition
During pregnancy your food cravings go crazy. You want to eat all the unhealthy, high fat and sugar food. This causes dental issues. It is really important to eat healthy food throughout pregnancy to help your baby’s teeth form properly. This includes a mixture of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and unrefined grains.
Effects of Breastfeeding on Dental Health
During pregnancy your nutrition is shared with your baby and once you start breastfeeding, you need to compensate for the nutrition you make for your baby. During lactation, your bones break down to send more calcium into your bloodstream, and your kidneys release less calcium into your urine to save it for your milk. In case, your mouth bones (teeth) break down then it can cause problems in your gums and teeth.
Being a new mother, your focus is more on the baby and you give yourself less time to care for yourself. This worsens the situation. It is very important to take proper oral hygiene and hydrate yourself well to prevent dental issues.
Common Dental Issues
When a woman gets pregnant, there is an extreme hormonal change which increases inflammation in the body. Around 60-75% women develop gingivitis during pregnancy. Inflammation of the gums is called gingivitis. It can be treated by professional teeth cleaning. But if it is left unaddressed, it can turn into periodontal disease (PD) and that can result in permanent tooth loss.
· Cavities and tooth decay
Due to crazy cravings and frequent snacking, the risk of tooth decay increases. Cavities or tooth decay occurs because of buildup of plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. It they left untreated, the decay-causing bacteria can transfer to your baby after birth (transmission can occur by sharing utensils with your baby or kissing them on lips). Therefore, it is important to treat it and basic dental procedures, such as fillings and crowns, are completely safe to get during pregnancy.
· Calcium deficiency
When you are breastfeeding, you lose calcium and it is much needed to maintain healthy bones and teeth. So, it is important that you include calcium enriched food in your diet.
· Teeth grinding
While breastfeeding your muscles are in such position that it causes tension in your neck and head. Also, being a new mother is stressful and that tension causes mothers to grind their teeth in sleep. Therefore, it is better to not feel stressed and feed your child in the correct position (or use a nursing pillow) to avoid teeth grinding.
· Dry mouth
When you are breastfeeding you need more fluid intake. And because of your busy schedule with a newborn, you forget to drink water. When you don’t drink enough water, you can get a dry mouth. So, it is better to set alarm or reminders in your phone and maintain proper fluid intake.
· Enamel Erosion
Most of the pregnant women face morning sickness that causes nausea and vomiting. This is mostly caused due to hormonal changes or acidity caused by dietary changes. The vomiting contains stomach acids that can wear off tooth enamel resulting in the permanent loss of tooth enamel.
Maintaining Oral Health for Breastfeeding Mothers
You can keep your teeth healthy while breastfeeding your baby by doing the following things:
· Drinking fluids when you feel thirsty
Drinking fluids does not mean you drink shakes or juices, it means to drink a tooth-healthy beverage like water when you get thirsty. The more water you drink, the more saliva you will make and that cleans and protects your teeth naturally.
· Brush twice a day and floss once daily
It is important that you maintain regular oral hygiene, no matter how busy you get. The better you care about your teeth, the lesser will be the chances of getting cavities or passing it to your baby.
· Get enough calcium
Drink milk and consume calcium enriched foods for healthy teeth.
So, if you have any dental issues, and you want to see a dentist, first check whether you have Medicare Health Insurance. If you have enrolled yourself for Medicare Part C, then your dental procedures will be covered and you don’t have to worry about high charges of such procedures. Medigap Plans 2021 also let you have dental treatments with their copayments and coinsurance policies. Do check them.