Healthy Teeth and Gums… Healthy Twins, Triplets and More?

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Posted by vera | Posted in Health, Parenting, Teeth | Posted on 21-08-2010

We are proud to share this guest blog, co-authored with Erika King, Dental Hygienist. Enjoy!

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A sometimes overlooked health factor when pregnant is… Dental Health!

Carrying  multiples in particular impacts the health of your gums and teeth; both can be affected by your pregnancy, and in turn your pregnancy can be affected by how well you take care of your mouth.

Some women find their gums become puffy or swollen and bleed more when they are pregnant.  This is due to the increased production of estrogen (normal during pregnancy and particularly increased for moms pregnant with twins, triplets or more), and is called pregnancy gingivitis.  For some women the increased estrogen causes their gums to become extra sensitive to plaque (bacteria) that accumulates on their teeth.  Women who experience this need to be extra diligent in their oral care at home, and it is usually recommended they also see their dental hygienist during this time for additional cleaning and/or guidance.

One of the early signs of multiples pregnancies is more extreme than normal morning sickness.  Women who experience morning sickness also need to pay special attention to their dental health. Frequent vomiting or regurgitation can lead to acid erosion of the teeth. When stomach acid frequently comes into contact with teeth, the outer enamel covering can wear down, weakening the tooth and increasing sensitivity.  After an incident of vomiting, the best thing to do is to rinse out your mouth with water or mouth wash, and avoid brushing your teeth for at least 45 minutes.   Brushing your teeth right after vomiting actually increases the rate of erosion as you are scrubbing the acid into your teeth.

Many pregnant women, particularly those pregnant with more than one, also experience nausea or an increased gag reflex, making it difficult to take proper care of her teeth/gums.  Using non-foaming toothpaste often helps (i.e. no sodium laurel sulphate– these toothpastes may be hard to find, try looking in health or naturopathic stores, or online.  Some examples of brands are: Tom’s of Maine, Therabreath, the Natural Dentist, Nature’s Gate, CloSYS, Squigle, Sapphire Toothpaste ), as well as leaning over the sink while brushing your teeth, allowing the toothpaste to drain out of your mouth instead of building up.  (Yes, this becomes a bit tricky towards the end of the second and into the third trimester, when your belly is full of big babies!)  Other women may find it helpful to take a deep breath and then hold it while brushing the teeth at the back of the mouth. Using a smaller toothbrush, as well as using floss holders may also help.

So why is gum health so important during pregnancy? Scientific studies have found women with severe gum disease are seven times more likely to have pre-term, low birth-weight babies. This is due to the labour-inducing hormone called progesterone, which is present in oral bacteria.  When your gums are unhealthy, the bacteria in your mouth can enter your blood stream, increasing the circulating progesterone. This becomes especially significant for women pregnant with multiples, as they are often already at risk for pre-term labour.

Seeing your dental hygienist for regular dental cleanings can help you have a healthy pregnancy. She will give you advice and guidance for your specific situation. She will also teach you important preventative tips for your growing family.

Erica King, RDH

www.ericasmobilesmiles.ca

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