Pregnancy is a time when you need to take the best possible care of yourself. Pregnancy affects every part of your body, from your hair to your feet, and that most definitely includes your mouth. Unfortunately, pregnant women sometimes let their dental health slide at this critical time. Often, this is because pregnant women mistakenly believe false information that they've been told by older relatives or friends. Buying into these myths and old wive's tales can seriously damage your dental health. Take a look at a few of the most common dental health myths that you should avoid taking seriously.
Myth: Have A Baby, Lose A Tooth
There is no reason that this myth has to be true, but if you believe it, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You're less likely to be proactive and take steps to prevent tooth problems if you believe they're inevitable.
Certain aspects of pregnancy do put your tooth health at risk. For example, if you suffer from morning sickness, the stomach acids that enter your mouth when vomiting can be hard on your teeth and contribute to conditions that cause decay and cavities. Pregnant women are also prone to pregnancy gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums that leads to gum redness, tenderness, and bleeding.
However, that in no way means that you will definitely lose a tooth! If you're vigilant about your oral hygiene and keep up your regular routine of brushing and flossing after each meal, you can keep these problems under control. Remember that you're likely to be eating more often, and that means cleaning your teeth more often as well. Not only are dental problems avoidable during pregnancy, you should be doing everything you can to avoid them. Pregnancy gingivitis results in a risk of pre-term labor, preeclampsia, and low-birth weight that is seven times greater than the risk of mothers who don't have gingivitis. Good dental care can help you and your baby.
Unfortunately, women often don't get the dental care they need while pregnant, because of the next myth.
Myth: You Can't Have Dental Work While Pregnant
There are many variations of this myth. Some women believe that they can't see the dentist at all while pregnant. Others believe that cleanings are OK, but procedures like fillings and root canals are not. Still others believe that it's dental X-rays and local anesthetics that you need to avoid while pregnant. The odds are good that you'll hear at least one variation of these myths while pregnant. Unfortunately, even some dentists are misinformed on the topic of dental treatment during pregnancy.
The truth is, dental treatment during pregnancy is perfectly safe. If you're having the recommended two tooth cleanings a year, at least one of them is going to fall within the timespan of your pregnancy – you should definitely keep the appointment! (And if you haven't been getting two cleanings a year, now is a great time to start, for your sake and your baby's sake.) If you have pain or notice signs of infection or inflamed gums, you should see a dentist right away for treatment. Dental treatment – including X-rays – is not only safe during pregnancy, it's recommended. Any dentist who refuses to treat you during your pregnancy is most likely working with out-of-date information – if this happens to you, don't give up. Find a different dentist instead.
Myth: The Baby Takes Calcium From Your Teeth
This one seems logical on its face. You know that the fetus gets its nutrients from your body, and you know that it needs calcium in order to grow its own bones and teeth. Where would that calcium come from if not from your bones and teeth?
However, in reality, the baby gets its calcium from the same place that you do – your diet. This is why it's so important to eat healthily and take any recommended supplements while you're pregnant. Even if you don't get enough calcium in your diet, however, the baby won't "steal" the calcium from your teeth. Mothers have a higher rate of cavities for a variety of reasons, ranging from morning sickness to changes in their oral hygiene, not because the baby took their calcium.
If you're concerned about your oral health during your pregnancy, make an appointment with your dentist early on to discuss your condition and how to best protect your teeth. You owe it to yourself and your little one to make sure that you maintain your dental health.