Every once in a while I have a patient tell me, “Doc, I never had any cavities until I got pregnant, then I started have all these problems. I heard that my baby stole the calcium from my teeth. What can I do now?”
Let’s Get to the Bottom of it.
First off I have good news, your baby CANNOT steal the calcium from your teeth. The stuff your teeth are made out of(calcium, phosphates, and fluoride) is hard. The enamel of teeth is harder than bone. There’s no way for minerals that hard to break down into microscopic pieces travel through the blood stream and get built into baby.
Why do New Mothers Get More Cavities?
The answer is so simple you will wonder why you didn’t think if it, STOMACH ACID. Acid is one of the three pillars of tooth decay (the other two are bacteria and sugar) and stomach acid is a very evil version of it. If tooth decay is a burning house, acid is not only the match that started it but gasoline poured over the top just to make it burn faster. Consider these things about pregnancy:
1) Most expecting mothers experience significant nausea during their first trimester if not further into the pregnancy. The last thing you are thinking about when vomiting is your teeth yet they are getting coated with stomach acid every time.
2) Acid reflux is a common condition later in pregnancy due to the increased pressure on internal organs. That baby gets big and he/she has to go somewhere. This can cause your stomach to force acid into your esophagus. This is an even bigger problem at night because it’s sitting there all night before you get up to brush it off.
3) The last thing you want to do when you are nauseous is brush your teeth. This produces a kind of double whammy situation. Not only are you coating all those pearly whites with stomach acid but you unintentionally neglect them as well.
The Goal is Always Less Cavities so Let’s Prevent the Problems
1) During pregnancy is it even more important to brush and floss twice a day, more if you want to.
2) After any episode of nausea or reflux you should rinse your mouth out with water (not Pepsi) and if you can brush as well. More time for the acid to sit on the teeth equals more time to destroy something vital.
3) Try not to add to the problem by consuming high acid things like soda, most fruit juices, and tomato sauce.
4) Chew some sugar free gum throughout the day. This keeps saliva flowing and will help keep the surfaces of the teeth clean.
5) Don’t miss your checkups. Sometimes we even recommend an extra hygiene appointment during pregnancy.
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Hopefully we just put one more myth to bed and got some good information out into the world. Babies don’t steal your calcium but without the proper care pregnancy can cause you serious dental problems.