If you’re pregnant, especially if it’s your first time, dental care may be the farthest thing from your mind. But there are good reasons to still keep your oral health top of mind during this joyous time. In fact, your dentist in Sparks recommends that everyone, including those who are pregnant, continue to keep up with regular preventive dental care every six months. After all, the truth is, that the oral health of the mom can affect the overall health of the baby.
During pregnancy, hormones can go haywire thanks to the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone. As a result, gum disease, or what’s known as pregnancy gingivitis, is common and affects about half of pregnant women, according to the American Dental Association. The symptoms of this condition are pain, swelling, tenderness, and excessive bleeding in the gums. While this may seem like no big deal, pregnancy gingivitis can result in low-birth-weight babies and even preterm births. If you have signs of pregnancy gingivitis, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Sparks.
Decay & Cavities
Pregnancy cravings are real and, depending on the craving, can affect oral health and increase the risk of decay. For example, if your pregnancy cravings are treats that are high in sugar or you find yourself snacking more often than usual, it can increase the likelihood of developing a cavity. Additionally, morning sickness, which affects an estimated 70% of pregnant women, can weaken tooth enamel. When teeth are exposed to stomach acid over an extended period of time, this acid can wear away the protective layer of enamel and increase the risk of decay.
The good news is that there are things you can do to limit the negative effects of stomach acid on teeth:
- Rinse with water – Swish water around in your mouth and spit it in the sink after you experience morning sickness. This can remove some of the acids from your teeth.
- Wait an hour – You may feel like brushing your teeth immediately after getting sick, but your dentist in Sparks recommends that you wait at least an hour before brushing after you’re sick.
- Drink water – Water can neutralize and wash away acids and bacteria.
- Use a tongue scraper – After you get sick, gently use a tongue scraper across your tongue. This can help remove some of the acids that may stick around on the tongue and then transfer to the teeth.
The Oral & Overall Health Connection
Oral health is closely related to overall health as well as pregnancy health. This is why three of the most respected organizations – the American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – encourage every expectant mother to see the dentist, especially during the earlier stages of pregnancy. It’s an important part of ensuring good health for the mom and the baby.
If you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t put off regular dental visits to your Sparks dentist throughout your pregnancy. It’s also crucial to keep brushing twice a day and flossing once a day to keep bacteria at bay. However, if you need non-emergency or non-routine dental care such as cosmetic dentistry or a dental implant, wait until your baby is born to proceed with those treatments.
What we eat and drink can certainly affect our overall health. But did you know they can also affect dental health? Some beverages are beneficial for teeth while others can wreak havoc in your mouth. Tune in as your dentist in Sparks talks about which drinks you should enjoy regularly and which you should avoid or drink in moderation to protect your teeth.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but soda of any kind is bad for your teeth. This also includes sugar-free options. Soda is typically loaded with sugar, but that’s not the only problem. It’s also acidic and can weaken tooth enamel, making it easier for bacteria to attack teeth and create cavities. In fact, studies show that even diet soda or sugar-free options can still break down enamel thanks to the acid.
Fruit Juice & Fruit Punch
Drinking something with fruit right in the name may seem like a healthy option, but this can be deceiving. Most commercial fruit juices contain added sugars and are made from concentrate, not actual fruit juice. If you can find an option that is 100% fruit juice and doesn’t have added sugars, it’s an ok option. Fruit punch on the other hand isn’t actually juice or fruit at all. They’re mostly sugar and acidic.
Not all alcohol is necessarily bad for teeth if enjoyed in moderation. Early studies on beer, for example, may show a beneficial effect on teeth because of the hops. More research is needed to be sure. But other alcoholic drinks like wine are often acidic and can weaken enamel. Alcohol is also naturally drying, so it can easily dry out the mouth. A dry mouth is a haven for bacteria to thrive.
Often marketed as a great option for active people, sports drinks are high in sugar and are also acidic. As we’ve mentioned, this duo can be dangerous to teeth and increase the risk of dental problems.
What To Choose Instead
When it comes to choosing the best beverages for your family, there are some great options available that can quench your thirst and benefit your oral health.
Your dentist in Sparks can’t stress the importance of drinking enough water every day. This not only helps keep your body hydrated, but it also helps wash away bacteria, neutralize acid, and promotes saliva production.
We all know that milk helps build strong bones, but it can also help build strong teeth and keep them strong. Milk contains calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D, all of which are beneficial for teeth. Milk also contains caseins, a protein that forms a protective barrier on teeth to keep bacteria and acids away. However, because milk also contains sugar, your dentist in Sparks recommends drinking milk in one sitting and not over a period of time.
Even though drinking too much tea can stain your teeth and make you explore teeth whitening options, it does have some health benefits. Black and green tea in particular may inhibit the growth of bacteria and help keep decay away. Tea can also decrease acid production which can protect teeth even more. However, keep in mind that these studies were for unsweetened tea. Any sweetener from sugar to natural honey can encourage decay.
To help protect your teeth against decay, choose what you drink wisely. If you do indulge in beverages that aren’t so great for your smile, especially acidic ones, try to use a straw and wait at least 20 minutes after drinking to brush your teeth.