Does Pregnancy Affect Oral Health?

pregnant woman standing outside in a field
It’s no secret that the side effects of pregnancy range far beyond just creating another human life. However, you may be surprised to learn that there is a strong correlation between pregnancy and oral health. Pregnant women are at a higher risk for developing gum disease and cavities, and the oral health of a pregnant woman can have an impact on the health outcomes of both mother and baby. Today, we want to talk about the oral health risks faced by pregnant mothers as well as the steps they can take to keep their teeth healthy and strong.

Pregnancy & Gum Disease

During pregnancy, hormonal changes cause blood flow to the gums to increase. This can cause gum tissue to become sensitive, swollen, and tender. Not only is this change uncomfortable, it can also hamper your body’s normal response to bacteria and increase your risk for infection.

While there’s nothing you can do to avoid these hormonal changes, you can take steps to mitigate your risk for gum disease by following a good at-home oral hygiene routine as well as regularly visiting our office. In some cases, Dr. Henson may prescribe a special mouthwash to treat your gum disease.

Not only is fighting back against gum disease important for your own oral health, it is also important for the health of your baby. Gum disease is associated with preterm births, low birth weight, and other adverse outcomes.

Pregnancy & Cavities

As if gum disease wasn’t enough to worry about, pregnancy can also increase your risk for cavities. This heightened risk is due both to hormonal changes that affect your body’s response to bacteria as well as changes in diet while pregnant. There is a strong correlation showing that children of pregnant mothers with cavities are much more likely to develop cavities of their own.

Good oral health starts at home: you should brush your teeth twice daily and floss each day to keep teeth healthy and strong. Regular visits to our office help our team treat your oral health and are especially important while pregnant.

Contact us to ask our team any questions about oral health or to schedule a consultation!

Can Baby Teeth Get Cavities?

Many don’t think about the health of baby teeth. The assumption is that since baby teeth eventually fall out, they don’t need to be cared for. Nothing could be less true. Baby teeth are especially prone to cavities. In fact, by the age of five, 60 percent of children have had a cavity. Baby teeth are important and need to be cared for to set kids on a healthy path for life.

young girl showing off her baby brother's teeth and smile

Cavities & Baby Teeth

Baby teeth are susceptible to tooth decay for a number of reasons. First, children tend to not brush properly or for long enough. They may fight parents on allowing them to brush. Young children often don’t floss. This can also lead to food particles becoming stuck in between teeth and leading to plaque and tartar. Finally, children tend to love sweet treats. Many of the foods marketed to children are processed snacks like crackers, cookies, and cereal. All of these early childhood staples are hazardous for the health of teeth, especially if proper dental hygiene is lacking.

How to Prevent Cavities in Baby Teeth

For starters, don’t underestimate the importance of baby teeth or dental hygiene for young kids. We set our children up for a lifetime of healthy teeth if we begin and teach good habits early. Bring your child in for a dental appointment as soon as they turn a year old or get their first tooth. Make sure they are brushing twice a day, especially before bed. If they are under the age of six, you’ll need to help make sure they are brushing properly and for long enough. Choose snacks for your child that are low in refined starches and not overly processed. Vegetables, grains, fruits, and lean protein sources are best. Save sweets for special occasions only, and always make sure to brush after.

What to Do If Your Child Has a Cavity

If your child complains of tooth pain or you suspect they may have a cavity, call our office. We will get them seen as soon as possible. Because children’s cavities are common, we are highly experienced in helping. Treatment for a cavity is easy and painless if caught early. Don’t delay getting a cavity checked out. In a baby tooth, infection and abscess could develop and damage the health of the permanent teeth that have yet to grow in.

Contact us today if it’s time to schedule your little one for a dental appointment. We make sure our smallest patients feel comfortable and have fun when they’re with us. We’ll see you soon!

Interesting Facts About Ancient Dental Practices

If you didn’t have the modern conveniences of a toothbrush and toothpaste, what would you use to clean your teeth? Well back in the day, ancient civilizations had a lot of different methods for cleaning teeth…some more effective than others. Let’s travel into the past to learn some fun facts about primitive dental practices!

egyptian pharaoh figurine

Chewing Sticks

Back before soft-bristled toothbrushes, people would use chewing sticks to clean their teeth. Imagine a stick or twig with frayed ends that would act as bristles. The first record of these chewing sticks comes from the Babylonians in 3500 BC, and ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, and Romans also used such tools.

Tooth Worms

Today, we know that those little holes in our teeth called cavities are caused by decay, but popular belief in the olden times was that a tooth worm was responsible for gnawing away at our teeth and causing problems. Thank goodness that that turned out not to be true! To get rid of such small pests, different cultures tried different techniques, including rituals, spells, heated probes, and extraction.

Toothpaste Recipes

We may have some interesting toothpaste flavors on the market now like chocolate and bacon, but they don’t quite compare to some of the ingredients that were once used. Ash, eggshells, pumice, crushed bones, oyster shells, and bark were all once used to make toothpastes. The oldest known recipe for toothpaste, which comes on a papyrus from ancient Egypt, doesn’t sound so terrible though. It called for rock salt, mint, iris flower, and pepper.

Hearing some of these ancient dental practices may make you a little more thankful for the comfort and convenience of today’s oral health care. We’re sure glad times have changed! If you need some help sorting out a dental routine for yourself, whether you need some pointers with technique or some advice with products, feel free to contact the Henson Family Dental team today!

Can Your Gums Grow Back?

Receding gums is a condition in which the gums around your teeth pull back or wear away to expose more of your tooth or even your tooth’s root. But once your gums recede, can they grow back? Here, we’ll discuss whether your gums can grow back, along with explaining what causes your gums to recede, what happens when they do, and how you can prevent your gums from receding.

woman touching her lower lip wondering if her gums are receding

What Causes Gums to Recede?

There are a large number of factors that can cause gums to recede. Some are directly related to your oral health such as poor oral hygiene, grinding your teeth, gum disease which destroys gum tissue and the bone that keep your teeth in their place, and too aggressive tooth brushing which can wear away at your enamel and lead to your gums receding. Then there are the unfortunate factors that you can’t do too much about including genetics–about 30 percent of people are predisposed to gum disease–and hormonal changes that we experience throughout our life including during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Further, there are those causes that are personal lifestyle choices such as smoking and tobacco use and body piercings that can lead to receding gums.

What Happens When Your Gums Recede?

Your gums are meant to protect your teeth by connecting your teeth to bone and protecting your teeth’s roots from being exposed. When your gums recede, this can cause tooth decay as bacteria can build up in the pockets that are left between the gums and teeth. If left untreated, receding gums can actually cause tooth loss. You’ll be able to detect gum recession when you notice your teeth being particularly sensitive to hot and cold foods, and if your teeth look longer than normal.

Can Your Gums Grow Back?

The short answer is no. Once your gums recede, they can’t come back. However, there are a number of treatment options that can help depending upon how severe the gum recession is. First, there is root planing which is when your dentist removes any plaque buildup on your tooth’s root to prevent tooth decay or periodontal disease from developing. Gum grafting is a surgical procedure during which your healthy gum tissue is taken from the top of your mouth to replace the missing gum tissue. Lastly, there is regeneration which is only used in the more extreme cases of gum recession where the bone is destroyed. A dentist will place regenerative material where the bone loss occurred to regenerate tissue and bone during this surgical procedure.

How Can You Prevent Gum Recession?

Good oral health habits are the best way to prevent your gums from receding. This means brushing–not too vigorously!–twice a day for two minutes at a time, flossing at least once a day, and using fluoride toothpaste. It’s also important to eat a healthy diet low in sugars and starches, and if you are a smoker you should consider stopping.

Another vital aspect of good oral health is coming in for regular checkups and cleanings. Contact our office today to learn more about healthy gums and to schedule a consultation with our team!