Do you think losing teeth after giving birth is natural? Worried that your baby has “soft teeth”? Think again!
Two of the most common dental myths about pregnancy and nursing may be getting in the way of your healthy smile – and even your baby’s brand-new teeth!
Read on to learn more…
Myth: During pregnancy and nursing, a baby sucks the calcium from the mother, causing a tooth to fall out for each child.
Fact: According to a 2005 study of more than 2,600 pregnant women, the number of children a woman has is, in fact, correlated to her risk of periodontal disease and of losing teeth. However, this isn’t because she has lost calcium to her child.
There are a number of factors that researchers believe may contribute to this. Pregnant women are more susceptible to gingivitis, and also tend to skip dental appointments during pregnancy, which allows existing problems and any new issues that crop up during pregnancy to worsen.
Frequent morning sickness can erode tooth enamel, and hormonal changes can cause dry mouth, increasing the risk of cavities. Cravings for sugary, starchy, and acidic foods may also deteriorate teeth – ice cream and pickles are not so great for your dental health, especially if you’re brushing and flossing less because your gums are inflamed. If you suffer from morning sickness, be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water before brushing your teeth to avoid pushing stomach acids deeper in between teeth.
After the first child, subsequent pregnancies can compound dental problems, including tooth loss. The loss of teeth in itself causes other dental problems, like teeth shifting, problems with bite, and bone loss in the jaw. Especially if you have a history of dental problems, take extra care during later pregnancies.
Myth: Some people have inherently “soft teeth,” which is why cavities sometimes seem to run in families.
Fact: There is no such thing as soft teeth! The real reason that some families seem prone to cavities is that mothers frequently transfer an infection to their infants, especially during the first year of life.
Mothers who have a history of cavities and fillings are at the most risk of transferring cavity-causing bacteria to their infants through saliva. The abundant sugars in infants’ diets feed the bacteria, which produce acid that can damage the child’s teeth.
Mothers can reduce their own oral bacteria during pregnancy and nursing through careful oral hygiene, a healthy diet, and regular dental visits. Concerned mothers can also maintain their child’s oral health with proper dental hygiene – as soon as an infant’s teeth begin to show, clean them gently with a damp cloth or infant toothbrush.
“Baby bottle tooth decay” is also a key factor in the development of early cavities caused by bacteria. Don’t leave a bottle in the crib at night, and avoid nighttime feeding after 3-4 months. Also, be sure to use a pacifier to comfort your infant rather than a bottle or nursing.
Once your child is old enough to clean his or her own teeth, continue to monitor and reinforce careful brushing and flossing habits. Watch out for white, chalky spots or brown patches, and bring the child to the dentist regularly and if you suspect any problem.
Have you heard other dental myths you wonder about? Let us know and we’ll investigate!
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