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Pregnancy and your smile

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Old wives tales say that you lose a tooth for every pregnancy you have and if you don’t get enough calcium during your pregnancy, your body takes it from your teeth, and these are just that, tales. It is true that your body goes through a lot of changes, but the loss of a tooth is definitely not one.

Common dental problems during pregnancy:

Pregnant women are at a higher risk for developing tooth decay, not because of any lack of calcium, but more so from their eating habits.{{more}} Tooth decay is affected by what you eat, how often you eat, and how long the food stays in your mouth or on the teeth. During pregnancy, women tend to snack a lot more and often it is on sweet foods like ice cream, cake and biscuits.

Healthy dieting is out the window and whatever stays down is what will be eaten. This continual snacking exposes the teeth to acid attacks by the bacteria in your mouth. When this occurs often enough, the tooth decays and sensitivity and pain may ensue. What also accelerates this process is the fact that few women like to brush their teeth at this time, whether the taste of the toothpaste makes them sick or the toothbrush makes them gag. Whatever the reason, it’s just not happening as often as it should.

The change in good oral hygiene practises and the hormonal changes during pregnancy can also cause plaque build up on the teeth, irritating the gums, making them red and tender and likely to bleed. This condition called pregnancy gingivitis usually appears in the third to ninth month of pregnancy, and if untreated can lead to more serious gum diseases.

Nausea and vomiting can occur during pregnancy. Frequent vomiting can leave stomach acids in your mouth. If this acid is not removed quickly, it can weaken the teeth and place them at a greater risk at developing decay.

Ways of keeping your teeth healthy:

• Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, taking extra care to clean along the gumline and to floss daily.

• Eat a variety of healthy foods.

• Limit foods that are sweet or sticky, these increase the risk of tooth decay.

• Do not brush your teeth for 30 minutes after vomiting. The stomach acids combined with brushing may erode the tooth enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth with water or better yet a fluoride mouthwash that will help to protect your teeth and freshen your breath.

• Visit your dentist regularly during your pregnancy. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth that are passed onto the baby from parents. If you have healthy teeth, you will have less tooth decay bacteria and lower the risk of passing bacteria onto your baby.

• Have your dental cleanings done as often as your dentist recommends so as to avoid gingivitis. Studies have shown that mothers with gingivitis are more likely to give birth to premature, low birth weight babies.

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