When you're pregnant, you want to be in the best of health and make your body a conducive vessel for the life growing inside you. Thus, you watch what you eat, take vitamins, and exercise in moderation. However, it's easy to forget that "overall health" includes oral health, too.
Oral health pertains not only to your teeth, but to your gums and throat as well. As your pregnancy progresses, many changes take place in your body, and your teeth, gums, and mouth aren't spared—in fact, WebMD says that if you already have significant gum disease, pregnancy may make it worse.
There is also an old wives' tale that goes, "Gain a child, lose a tooth," but health professionals are quick to dispel this: pregnancy in itself will not cause you to lose a tooth. While it is true that calcium is needed to build your baby's bones and teeth, this nutrient should come from a mother's diet rather than her bones. Only when her diet is lacking from this mineral will the body get the supply from the calcium stored in the mother's bones, which underscores even more the need for good nutrition during this stage.
Among the common problems encountered by moms during pregnancy are bleeding gums (gingivitis), teeth that become brittle, tooth sensitivity, toothache, tooth loss, and lumps in the gum area. In fact, according to members of the Facebook group Smart Parenting Village, preggos reveal they are held back from seeking treatment for fears of the effect of the medication or tests (such as dental X-rays) on their pregnancy. One mom, however, shared her dentist told her dental treatments were fine during the second trimester and as long as your ob-gyn says so. Her ob-gyn prescribed her calcium supplements.
Aside from these, one other effect of pregnancy to oral health has something to do with the pearly whites' appearance.
In a recent post on The Sun, British reality star Stacey Solomon of the X Factor wrote about her experience during her second pregnancy. She had a generally healthy dental record—with nary even a tooth filling—until her second pregnancy happened.
"In the first few months of my second pregnancy I was seeing the dentist more than my midwife. I endured problem after problem.
"Up until that point I’d never even had a filling and all of a sudden I was being drilled into left, right and centre. My teeth turned a funny color, I had to have some removed as they were so damaged and I was soon full of fillings," she wrote.
Thankfully, the condition had subsided around her fourth month of pregnancy, but by then her teeth had turned brown and decayed, which caused her to be embarassed about smiling.
Stacey says pregnancy left her afraid to smile
Stacey with her natural teeth
And because she wanted desperately to have her teeth back to their old appearance, she agreed when her dentist suggested veneers, a thin layer of material placed on top of your natural teeth. "But the reality was that they would never look like that again," she wrote.
Not happy with her "fake" smile
She wasn't pleased at all with the results. "They were bulbous and whiter than white. Not only that, they felt weird. I struggled to close my mouth properly and was worried that a tooth might ping out of my mouth at any moment."
She says it took a lot of courage to go back to the dentist after a few years to have her teeth fixed, and this time the results were much better...although she laments, "I will forever look slightly fake and probably older than I am because of my teeth."
Stacey with her new veneers
Previous studies also show that women with a severe case of periodontal disease are about eight times more likely to give birth prematurely that those who are otherwise healthy.
To maintain good oral health, visit your dentist regularly (before you get pregnant is ideal), eat a balanced diet, and stick to your oral hygiene routine.
This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.