There is a common misconception that a developing fetus can actually steal calcium from your teeth during pregnancy. The enamel of the tooth is not directly affected by the pregnancy, but calcium can be taken from the bones of an expecting mother if their diet is inadequate. However, there are other changes during pregnancy that can affect your oral health that are important to understand to avoid any major issues during or after your pregnancy.
There are a number of studies indicating that dental disease can negatively affect a developing baby. The studies show a link between gum disease and low birth weight from being born too early. The premature babies are then at higher risk of developing other health related issues that include cerebral and hearing or seeing problems. We also know that a mother’s decay causing bacteria can be passed to their child, which makes it very important to make sure their mouth is very healthy before, during, and after the child is born.
But why are there so many anecdotes about women developing cavities after pregnancy? A common cause is the pregnancy hormones can make your gums more sensitive to plaque, which is a sticky layer of bacteria on your teeth. This plaque leads to gingivitis as the bacteria make your gums red, tender, and susceptible to bleeding. All of the extra bacteria harbored around the teeth can make you more likely to get decay in those areas.
So then what can you do to avoid or limit these potential problems? The first thing you can do is eat a healthy diet. Not only is it important for your own health, but the baby’s teeth begin to form in the second month of pregnancy. And what about those pregnancy cravings in between meals? Do your best to avoid sugary foods that can lead to tooth decay and try to find healthy foods for a between meal snack. If those will not satisfies those cravings, try to brush, floss, and rinse after each snack.
So while pregnancy itself does not always lead to cavities, there are certainly some risk factors to know about. Be sure to talk with your dentist or dental hygienist to develop a personalized plan involving good homecare and a healthy diet.
For more information, visit us at www.brownandkupper.com
Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.