Pregnancy and Dental Health
Pregnant? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about pregnancy and dental health.
Pregnancy affects nearly every aspect of a woman’s life and brings about big changes in one’s body. This includes oral health. Common conditions include bleeding gums, dry mouth and morning sickness. In addition, studies have linked poor dental habits during pregnancy with premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia so maintaining proper dental hygiene is important.
- Do you lose a tooth with each baby?
- This old wives’ tale is just that and tooth loss is not a normal part of pregnancy. However, progesterone and estrogen can loosen the ligaments and bones making teeth feel a bit loose. This normal goes away after pregnancy.
- How does morning sickness affect dental health?
- Morning sickness often causes vomiting and the stomach acids can eat away at teeth. It’s recommended that rinsing before brushing can help prevent those acids from doing damage. First swish, spit it out then brush teeth about 30 minutes later.
- Is it safe to see the dentist while pregnant?
- Yes. With pregnancy gingivitis, additional cleanings may be recommended during the second trimester and early third trimester to help control the condition. It’s also important to let the dental office know how far along you are when scheduling an appointment.
- What can I do if brushing is making me gag?
- The key is to find what best works for you. Maybe it’s changing your flavor of toothpaste, using a brush with a smaller head or brushing at different times of the day may. Another tip is to swish and spit then continue brushing.
- Does what I eat affect my baby’s teeth?
- Eating well can help a baby’s teeth form correctly. In addition to drinking water with fluoride, it’s important to get plenty of vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous. Folic acid supplements and foods high in folate are also recommended.
- Are x-rays safe during pregnancy?
- Yes. A protective apron will be used as a cover and minimize exposure to the abdomen. When possible, the throat will also be covered with a protective collar to protect the thyroid from radiation.
- Is it safe to have a dental procedure?
- Cavity fillings and crowns are safe during pregnancy and are important to prevent potential infection. However it is best to delay cosmetic procedures, such as whitening. If emergency dental work is needed, your dental professional will determine the best and healthiest treatment plan.
Proper oral hygiene is essential during pregnancy and should include both professional dental care and a good at-home routine. If questions or conditions arise, contact your dental professional or their staff.
Feeding Good Oral Health
Just as there are “not so good” foods for your teeth, several nourishing favorites are quite the opposite and as close as your own kitchen sink. Here are some of the “better choices” for maintaining oral health.
- Clear and refreshing, water is the healthiest of beverages whether for your heart, mind and yes, teeth. That’s even truer when it comes to fluoridated water, which helps make teeth more resistant to acid attacks that can cause cavities.
- Filled with protein and minerals yet low in carbohydrates, nuts can ward off cavities caused by acid producing bacteria activated by “carbs” and reduce tooth decay risks by stimulating saliva production.
- Generally low in sugar, milk and other dairy products will help avoid plaque build up, which leads to cavities, gum disease and enamel deterioration. Rich in protein and calcium, they are valuable in strengthening teeth.
- Lean Foods
- Lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs are more than phosphorus-rich. The inherent protein helps strengthen teeth.
- Fruits and Vegetables
- The act of chewing fruits and vegetables stimulates saliva, ultimately washing away harmful acids and food particles from teeth. They are also high in both water and fiber, which helps balance natural sugars and clean teeth, too.
Eating healthy combined with a proper oral hygiene regimen will keep you smiling from ear to ear.
Cavity Prevention Tips for Candy Lovers
Many of us enjoy candy from time to time – some of us more than others. For those who can’t get through the grocery aisle without a Hershey’s bar in hand or prefers chewy Swedish fish and gummy bears, here are some general candy-eating tips to help prevent cavities and protect your teeth.
- Drink plenty of water
- Water is good for you in so many ways – dental health included. Neutralizing the acid produced by bacteria inherent in candy is a natural tool in cavity prevention.
- Swish vigorously afterward
- This is a great tip when you’re not at home yet enjoying candy favorites. Vigorously swishing with water after eating helps shake loose bits of candy that often gets stuck in between teeth. Bacteria from even the smallest pieces can wreak havoc by excreting acid and harming teeth until you’re able to floss and brush away the sweet remnants.
- Avoid all day snacking.
- It may seem hard to believe but eating a lot of candy all at once is better than noshing on it throughout the day or over the course of weeks. A better rule of thumb is to expose your teeth to acid for the least amount of time as possible.
So candy lovers can still love their chocolate truffles or enjoy that box of Raisinets with popcorn at the movies. Just keep these tips top of mind!
Top 9 Foods That Damage Teeth
Watch What You Eat
Ah yes, these few words we all heard through childhood and even today come to mind as we chew on an ice cube or a sweet, gooey piece of caramel. Here are some of the top foods that can (and will) damage your teeth.
- Hard Candies
- When eaten in excess, hard candies and the constant exposure to sugar can be harmful to your teeth. It’s not only the sugar but there have been countless dental emergency cases involving broken or chipped teeth caused as a result. If you like to chew, try some sugarless gum.
- Water is good – no sugar, no additives. But in its frozen state, biting into a piece of ice can make teeth vulnerable to chips, cracks and even damaged enamel. Better option: Take a sip of pure, fresh water.
- Whether a juice or the fruit itself, exposure to citrus foods can wreak havoc on teeth. It can erode enamel, increase the likelihood of decay and irritate mouth sores, to name a few. So forego even that squeeze of lemon and stick with plenty of plain water.
- Coffee & Tea
- Coffee and tea are often deemed healthy beverage choices – that is until sugar is added. But it’s more than just the sweetness. These popular drinks can stain teeth and the caffeine can cause dry mouth. If you can’t get by without a cup of java or chai tea, avoid sugary additives and keep a glass of water handy.
- Sticky Foods
- Dry fruit sounds healthy, right? But these sticky foods are just one of many gooey alternatives that linger and can ultimately damage teeth. To help, rinse with some water after eating and always remember to brush and floss carefully.
- "Crunch" Foods
- Potato chips and tortilla chips are best when they crunch. However, the inherent starch can get trapped, increase plaque build up and damage teeth. For those who just can’t pass up these favorites, a little extra care when flossing will help.
- The list of reasons not to drink soda is seemingly endless - teeth included. The sugar causes plaque build up, leading to cavities, gum disease and enamel deterioration. Even diet soda drinkers are not immune as the acid can have a similar effect. It’s a good idea to keep a cup of water right alongside.
- The dehydration resulting from wine, beer or your favorite cocktail can cause dry mouth. This reduced saliva can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and other oral infections. Excessive alcohol use also increases the risk for mouth cancer. For this and many reasons, be careful when consuming alcohol.
- Sports Drinks
- These healthy fit drinks are often filled with sugar. Like soda, this can causes plaque build up, cavities and gum disease. It may also negatively affect the hard enamel coating on teeth. When choosing a sports drink, look for one low in sugar or consider a fresh glass of water.
Just as there are “not so good” foods for your teeth, several nourishing favorites can be great alternatives. Keep an eye out for the list to come!
The toothbrush has a long history, dating back 5,000 years! When used regularly, it will remove plaque, protect against cavities, prevent gum disease and freshen breath. But like any tool, there are certain helpful tips to keep in mind for optimum dental hygiene.
- Select a toothbrush with the ADA Seal.
- The ADA Seal of Acceptance confirms the toothbrush has been properly evaluated to make sure bristles won’t fall out with normal use, the handle will stay strong and it will help reduce risk for cavities and gum disease.
- Manual or powered toothbrushes is a matter of preference.
- When choosing between a manual and powered toothbrush, there is no better option. Both can effectively and thoroughly clean teeth when used properly. While it is really a matter of preference, a dentist may also help recommend the best option.
- Toothbrushes should be cleaned and left out in the open.
- To clean a toothbrush, simply rinse with tap water to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris then store upright to air dry. If stored with other toothbrushes, it is important they be separated to prevent cross contamination.
- The optimum toothbrush lifespan is 3-4 months.
- It’s important to replace toothbrushes every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush will not clean teeth as well.
- Soft-bristled toothbrushes are the better choice.
- Whether using a manual or powered toothbrush, the brush should be soft-bristled. Firm or even medium-strength bristles may cause damage to gums and enamel. When brushing, simply brush hard enough to clean the remove film from teeth. Fluoride toothpaste does the rest.
- Toothbrushes should not be shared.
- Sharing a toothbrush can mean sharing germs and bacteria. It should be avoided.
- Why do teeth change colors?
- There are several reasons why teeth will change color or become less bright over time. Some can be managed while others may be unavoidable. Here are a few common causes:
Certain beverages, such as coffee, tea and red wine, can be major staining culprits. Their intense color pigments attach to the outer white tooth enamel.
Tobacco use has many negative health impacts and teeth are not immune. Both tar and nicotine create stubborn stains – tar due to its inherent dark color; nicotine for the yellowish staining substance that occurs when mixed with oxygen.
The results of age are often unavoidable. Over time, the hard, white outer tooth enamel shell gets thinner with brushing and more of the tooth’s yellowish dentin shows through.
Trauma to the mouth can result in a tooth changing color due to greater exposure of the darker dentin layer under the white enamel shell.
Tooth darkening can be a side effect of certain medications and medical treatments. This includes both prescriptions and common over-the-counter remedies, such as antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure medications. Chemotherapy and head and neck radiation can also darken teeth.
- How Does Teeth Whitening Work?
- Teeth whitening is a simple process that utilizes bleach to break stains into smaller pieces, resulting in less concentrated color and brighter teeth.
- Does Whitening Work on All Teeth?
- No, whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. Results can vary based on tooth color as well as other factors – what caused the discoloration? Are the teeth real or in any part restored? A skilled dentist will be able to provide recommendations, including advantages and disadvantages of all available options.
- What Are the Popular Whitening Options?
- There are three general teeth whitening options ranging from toothpastes and at home treatments to other professional bleaching alternatives.
ADA-recommended whitening toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents to provide additional stain removal effectiveness, yet do not change the color of teeth.
At-home bleaching is an option that uses peroxide-containing whiteners to actually bleach tooth enamel and often come in the form of a gel or strip.
The most concentrated and powerful solution is done chairside at a dental office and uses a combination of bleach and a special light or laser to enhance the whitening agent.
- Are There Any Side Effects from Teeth Whitening?
- Some people who use teeth whiteners may experience temporary tooth sensitivity. This occurs when the peroxide penetrates the soft layer of dentin and irritates the tooth nerve. Another side effect is a result of overuse, which can damage both tooth enamel and/or gums.