This post is sponsored by Merion Village Dental, but the experience and opinions are my own
You want to know something that I don’t think anyone warned me about before I had kids? How much pregnancy and motherhood takes a toll on your oral health. I kid you not, in the years since I became a mother I have had two crowns and two root canals, as well as several cavity fillings. Before my first pregnancy I maybe had two cavities total. What changed? KIDS! And it is not a coincidence. During a recent visit to my dentist’s office I talked to my dentist about the importance of oral health during motherhood and why it can be such a challenge for so many of us.
Let’s start with pregnancy. Not only are you sharing nutrients like Calcium and Vitamin D with your baby, there are several other reasons why your teeth may be more susceptible to tooth decay or other dental issues while pregnant. Vomiting due to morning sickness and regurgitation due to reflux can coat your teeth with strong stomach acids. Repeated reflux and vomiting can damage tooth enamel and increase the risk of decay. And don’t even get me started on how much brushing my teeth was a gagging trigger for me when pregnant, so it was a vicious cycle of vomiting, needing to brush my teeth, which made me gag and need to vomit again, which made me need to brush… You get my point. A fluoride mouthwash (alcohol-free is best) helps clean the teeth after vomiting without the added risk of gagging, and the fluoride helps strengthen teeth.
It is also important to get enough Calcium and Vitamin D while you’re pregnant. Get it through your diet, or if you have food aversions to dairy, eggs, fish like salmon, etc. then take a supplement to ensure you are taking in enough of both nutrients.
Women also tend to avoid dental procedures for the same reason that brushing their teeth is unpleasant — the thought of someone being in your mouth and working on your teeth makes you want to gag. Literally. Having good dental hygiene and habits prior to pregnancy is important. If you are able, schedule any necessary dental appointments in your second trimester, when nausea has usually (hopefully) subsided.
You might think that once you have your baby you’ll be better able to focus on your oral health. But now you’re sleep deprived, breastfeeding, overwhelmed, and busy. And guess what goes on the back burner until you’re out of survival mode? You guessed it — your own health. You’ll see a doctor postpartum and may have another appointment due to necessary follow ups, breastfeeding issues, illness, medication, or other pressing issues. But you won’t be forced to make your oral health a priority, and so down it goes to the bottom of the to-do list. And then two years later when you come up for air you’ll finally get to the dentist and you’ll have a whole mess of work that needs done. And it isn’t pleasant. I speak from experience.
Think of your oral health as being just as important as your physical or mental health — because it is! Find a dentist you trust and enjoy visiting, make appointments well in advance and ask them to send you a reminder. My dentist at Merion Village Dental has created an environment that makes visits enjoyable and convenient. They have extended hours, including evening and Saturday hours, which help accommodate busy parents or a work-from-home mom like me that might not have childcare during the day. They also make the patient experience feel like you are a guest. They provide lunch if you are visiting during lunch hours (also super convenient for busy people), they have a comfort menu where you can request things like chapstick, to stream Netflix during a procedure, and even a hand paraffin wax! They offer anxiety medication or sedation for those with a major fear of dental procedures, and the entire office and staff are warm, patient, and take their time explaining everything to you (or not, if you indicate you prefer to just have the work done without a lot of explanation). They make it easy to book appointments, have plenty of staff so you aren’t left waiting forever to be seen, and make every attempt to accommodate your needs.
Have you experienced a decline in your own oral health due to pregnancy and motherhood? How has it impacted you?
This post is sponsored by Merion Village Dental, but the experience and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors who help me to bring content to you here at Oh Lovely Day.