Myth: A woman looses a tooth for every pregnancy. Reality: The fetus does not suck out the calcium from the mother’s teeth but behavior changes can adversely affect the dental health of the mother. Nausea can be common when pregnant and if vomiting is frequent, then the stomach acid upon the teeth can be very destructive. Moreover just brushing ones teeth can induce “morning sickness” so as a result daily oral hygiene can be curtailed resulting in an increase in tooth decay. Pregnancy results in major hormonal changes for the expecting woman. As a result, existing inflammation of the gums tends to be exaggerated (not withstanding the above paragraph) Significant longstanding inflammation is harmful for the body- not just expecting mothers (that is another article in itself) Research has shown a connection to bacteria entering the bloodstream through the gums eventually arriving at the uterus and promoting the production of chemicals called prostaglandins which in turn appears to have a relationship to preterm low-birth weight babies. What is to be done? The first step when possible is to have any and all dental problems addressed prior to pregnancy. During the pregnancy it is completely safe and beneficial to have ones teeth cleaned regularly in the dental office. It may be necessary to have additional or more frequent cleanings because as mentioned the swelling and bleeding of the gums is common during the pregnancy. In our office we try to avoid all medicines and x-rays during the entire term if possible but still, routine dentistry can be done (including x-rays with a lead apron) during the middle trimester- months 4, 5 and 6. Still, our office is conservative and generally prefers to wait on cosmetic procedures like veneers or surgery cases like implants. However dental emergencies such as a tooth ache or infection can and must be treated at anytime during the nine months. Orthodontics, whether comprehensive orthodontics or short term orthodontics (6 month braces) can be continued during pregnancy and even started during this time as it is a non invasive procedure without the use of medicines or injections.
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