Come on down all you moms-to-be! It’s time to play MYTH or FACT.
It is such an exciting time waiting for your little one to join your family. It can also be incredibly overwhelming to wade through the boatloads of misinformation out there. Today, we thought we’d make it feel a little less like diving headfirst into the WebMD rabbithole horror show and a little more Friday Night 90’s Game Show by playing our version of Myth or Fact. In this game, we’ll unveil common perceptions and misconceptions about oral health during pregnancy. For each statement, make your guess and then click below to reveal your answer. Keep score and see how you do!
So, let’s begin!
You should brush your teeth right after morning sickness.
So, here’s the deal. Vomit contains stomach acids that dissolve tooth enamel. If you’ve read our “Word of Mouth” blog articles before, you know that the amount of enamel we have in our lifetime is finite. So, when your enamel wears away, that’s it. Eroded enamel leaves you susceptible to cavities and infection, not to mention that teeth that are more brittle and sensitive. If you brush immediately after vomiting, the enamel is weakened from the acid and more likely to be damaged by your brush.
The solution? Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash immediately after vomiting THEN brush your teeth about 30 minutes later with a good quality, cavity-fighting toothpaste. You can also chew sugar-free gum in the interim, which helps neutralize the gastric acid.
You shouldn’t get dental X-rays while pregnant.
Modern technology has made it safe to get x-rays while pregnant. Radiation from dental x-rays is extremely low. However, it is important to let your dentist know that you’re expecting, as they will generally take greater precaution to cover your abdomen and thyroid during x-rays.
Your baby’s teeth can erupt in utero.
But it is exceedingly uncommon! At birth, most babies will be born with their primary teeth below the gum line. The first of those teeth will typically erupt between 4 and 7 months after your baby is born. However, in about 1 out of every 2,000 births, a baby is born with a tooth already erupted. If this occurs, it’s important to talk to your pediatrician. Natal teeth can be an indication of an underlying medical condition, malnutrition, or simply a result of genetic inheritance. However, we can’t emphasize enough that this is VERY RARE. So, this is more of a fun fact and not so much something that should be causing you sleepless nights. You need all the sleep you can get right now!
The baby will steal the calcium right out of your teeth!
No, the baby is not going to be alien-style stealing the calcium right out of your teeth. That said, they may be borrowing some calcium from your bones. Babies need tons of calcium for their growing bones and when there is insufficient calcium, they will leach it from the mother’s bones. This is why bone density loss is common during pregnancy and even more so during breastfeeding, when 3 to 5 percent loss in bone density is common. This is particularly acute in teen mothers who are still growing their bones and need a higher calcium intake on average than adult mothers. However, pregnant women actually absorb calcium more efficiently from food and supplements than do non-pregnant women. Therefore, if you have sufficient calcium intake in your diet, you should be just fine. The mom also has a bit of built in protection in that the greater amount of estrogen produced during pregnancy helps to protect the bones. The other good news? Bone mass is usually restored within a few months after breastfeeding has stopped. There’s even evidence that suggests that the more times a woman has been pregnant, the greater her overall bone density and less susceptibility to bone fracture later in life.
The lesson here? Don’t skimp on the calcium-rich foods during pregnancy. In other words, it’s perfectly acceptable to get that pizza with extra cheese.
Your mouth will be a breeding ground for canker sores, bleeding gums, sensitive teeth and cavities.
This is a result of 3 factors: 1) Hormonal changes, 2) Gastric acid from vomiting, and 3) Dietary changes.
Let’s deal with hormones first. During pregnancy, hormonal changes can result in all sorts of not-so-pleasant side effects. Hormonal changes can cause canker sores which, while a bit painful, are typically nothing to be concerned about and will go away with time. Hormonal changes also impact immune function, affecting the way your body deals with inflammation and oral bacteria. You are more susceptible to inflammation because your body has a, shall we say, more virulent response to plaque and harmful bacteria, leading to a bit more pink in the sink than usual.
Onto gastric acid. We already talked about this one a bit, but we want to add that gastric acid that isn’t washed out of the mouth can not only erode tooth enamel, but also allow for harmful bacteria to proliferate leading to potential tooth decay. That old wives tale “You Lose a Tooth For Every Baby” is looking a bit more realistic now.
Last but not least: dietary changes. Pregnant women tend to eat more sugar. They also eat more frequently, meaning that your teeth may go uncleaned between meals. This leaves way for plaque build-up and potential cavities.
The remedy? Take extra care to stick to a meticulous oral care regimen. Wash your mouth out right after morning sickness. Also, a small tip, you can alleviate discomfort from swollen gums by brushing with a toothbrush that has soft bristles and using floss that is gentle on your gums (try our RADIUS silk floss for a good clean without the discomfort).
So….how’d you do?
All 5 Correct? Superstar Mama!
You are sharp! Great work!! You’re ready to be writing your own oral care articles….or Sherlock Holmes-style mystery novels. Whichever comes first.
3-4 Correct? You go, Mama!
Woohoo! You were able to discern most of the fact from fiction. You earned yourself a bubble bath!
1-2 Correct? No worries, Mama!
You may not have known offhand what’s fact or fiction, but you do now! And you know what? The fact that you’re reading this right now means that you care about doing your research and that care is going to make you one great mom!
We hope this little guide has helped you learn a little bit more about what to expect from your oral health when you’re expecting.