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Fluoride has been a controversial subject for many. However, the benefits of fluoride are well known as studies have shown fluoridation of community water has reduced tooth decay by at least 25%. Beyond our drinking water fluoride supplements are also available. For pregnant women, it is important to consider what is ingested to keep the baby and the mother healthy during this critical time.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth’s crust and widely distributed in nature. Some foods and community water supplies contain fluoride.

How Does Fluoride Work To Prevent Tooth Decay?

Fluoride helps prevent cavities in two different ways:

1. Fluoride concentrates in the growing bones and developing teeth of children, helping to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth before they erupt.

2. Fluoride helps to harden the enamel on adult teeth that have already erupted.

Fluoride works during the natural process of building up (remineralization) and breaking down (demineralization) the enamel of our teeth.

-After eating a meal, your saliva contains acids that cause demineralization (dissolving of the calcium and phosphorous under the tooth’s surface).

-At other times during the day when your saliva is less acidic, replenishing the calcium and phosphorous that keep your teeth hard. This process is caused remineralization. When fluoride is present during remineralization, the minerals deposited are harder than they would otherwise be, helping to strengthen your teeth and prevent breakdown during the next demineralization period.

Is It Safe For Women To Take Fluoride Supplements During Pregnancy?

NO! Currently there is no evidence to show any benefit to the developing baby’s teeth. In fact they can be hazardous to the baby’s developing teeth. Fluoride supplements can cause the the placenta and be ingested by the baby possibly leading to dental fluorosis (is a developmental disturbance of dental enamel caused by excessive exposure to high concentrations of fluoride during tooth development).

Conclusion

While fluoride supplements should be avoided during pregnancy they serve a positive purpose the rest of our lives. Whether it is through drinking community water, brushing our teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, and through fluoride supplements provided by your dentist.

Being pregnant is an exciting time but it can bring with it lots of anxiety. Anxiety over doing what it is right for you and your baby’s health. This should include dental health as well since there have been direct links between oral health and our overall health. Once you know you are pregnant it is never too early to start thinking about dental health. A baby’s teeth are already beginning to form by about the 5th-6th week following conception. By the time your baby is born all 20 of their baby (primary) teeth are almost completely formed. Below you will find some helpful tips to care for your dental health as well as the baby’s.

What To Expecting When Expecting Your Baby

Does the calcium for my child’s teeth come from my teeth?

No! This is a common myth but it is simply not true. The baby receives all calcium just like their other nutrients from the mother’s dietary intake.

What’s The Best Way To Maintain My Dental Health While Pregnant?

Maintaining dental health during pregnancy is similar to when not pregnant. To prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease it is important to brush your teeth at least 2x per day, floss at least once per day, and use an antibacterial rinse. Pregnancy gingivitis (earliest stage of periodontal disease) can be especially problemsome especially during the 7th-8th month of pregnancy as hormones are raging. Almost one half of women experience pregnancy gingivitis, starting in the 2nd or 3rd month of pregnancy. It generally increases in severity all the way through to the eighth month. This pregnancy gingivitis can be very uncomfortable and cause inflammation, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gums. If you already have poor dental hygiene and periodontal disease before pregnancy begins, expect an extreme progression in your periodontal condition as you end your first trimester and onward. In some women, gums swollen by pregnancy gingivitis can react strongly to irritants and form large growths. These are called pregnancy tumors. These are not cancerous and are usually painless in nature. This tumor may require removal by a dentist if it persists. Research has suggested that pregnant women who have severe periodontal disease may be at a higher risk for preterm birth and low birth weight

Is Fluoride Safe?

For women who take fluoride supplements during pregnancy, it is expected that the added fluoride will help their children form strong teeth. However, this is a controversial subject and has not been fully studied. Additional fluoride will not necessarily aid in the process of enamel formation because fluoride works best when the teeth have fully formed and have erupted in the mouth. Fluoride changes the chemical bonds in the enamel of the erupted teeth to make it more resistant to tooth decay. More research studies are needed to determine the advantages, if any, and the safe dosage levels for prenatal fluoride supplementation.

What About Medications Used In Dental Work During Pregnancy?

Lidocaine is the most commonly used drug for dental work. Lidocaine (category B – No evidence of risk in humans. This category has shown adverse effects in animal trials but in controlled human trials have been deemed to be safe with no increased risk of fetal abnormalities.) is able to cross the placenta after administration. Any local anesthesia can cross the placenta and cause fetal depression, therefore anesthesia dosage should be limited to the minimum required to keep patient comfortable. Luckily, most dentistry can be completed with very small amounts of local anesthetic, thus causing no danger to mom or baby. A major study was completed spanning about 35 years and tracking 55,000 children. The study showed no evidence of any adverse reactions from local anesthetic use in pregnant women.

Dental work often requires antibiotics to prevent or treat infections. Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin, which are also labeled category B for safety in pregnancy, may be prescribed after your procedure. The penicillin and cephalosporin antibiotics most commonly used in dentistry (penicillin V, amoxicillin, and caphalexin) are generally considered safe for use during pregnancy. Clindamycin, metronidazole, and erythromycin are also believed to have minimal risk. Tetracyclines, including doxycycline, have shown to cause tooth discoloration and impaired bone metabolism. As a side note, taking antibiotics while using birth control medications will generally cause the birth control to be ineffective.

Will My Teeth Be Affected By Morning Sickness?

Vomiting due to morning sickness can lead to erosion of the enamel on the back of your front teeth. However, it is unlikely since the morning sickness lasts for such a short period of time. This is more likely to occur with frequent vomiting over a long period of time. If this is a concern of yours be sure to rinse with water and brush following bouts of morning sickness.

When Is The Best Time To Have Dental Work Performed?

Routine dental maintenance can be performed at any time but during third trimester it might be more difficult to sit in dental chair for long periods of time. The ideal time to see your dentist is during your second trimester, since your baby is more vulnerable during the first and third trimesters, when major development is occurring (first trimester) and the risk of premature delivery increases (late third trimester).

Can I Have My Teeth Whitened While Pregnant?

If you are pregnant, it is suggested to hole off from the use of bleaching agents, this also includes the use of whitening toothpastes. Teeth whitening may be resumed after pregnancy.

Pregnancy Conclusion

One of the best things you can do as an expectant mother is to maintain your own dental and general health.This should include a nutritious diet, regular visits to your physician as well as your dentist. A healthy mom will lead to an easier pregnancy as well as an easier time recovering after birth.

Use of an anti bacterial mouthwash can be an important part of everyone’s dental hygiene. Many people have been instructed to brush and floss regularly but did you know that using an anti bacterial mouthrinse can be just as important? Walking down the aisle of any grocery or drug store can be quite confusing as there are a ton of options.

Types Of Mouthwash

-Therapeutic Mouthwash. This type of mouthwash is meant to fight off dental diseases like tooth decay and periodontal disease. These will have anti bacterial and anti plaque (tartar control) properties. By reducing plaque and tartar you will decrease the risk of periodontal disease as well as decrease gum inflammation. They may also contain fluoride which will help in the fight against tooth decay.

-Cosmetic Mouthwash. These include agents to freshen your breath. They can also include whitening agents. Generally, these mouthwashes do not include any therapeutic agents.

Therapeutic Mouthwash Advantages

-Mouthwash With Fluoride. Fluoride mouthwashes have the ability to possibly help decrease the risk of tooth decay. There have been numerous research studies over the years to prove that fluoride can strengthen and reduce the breakdown of enamel thereby reducing the possibility of tooth cavities. This will not work for all but has been proven to be a benefit for many. Some fluorides are also good antibacterials and help fight periodontal disease (example – stannous fluoride).

-Periodontal Disease Fighter. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque from bacteria and food that sticks to teeth. As the bacteria feed on the food particles they release acids that will break down the bone and cause inflammation of the gum tissue. Our body responds and causes bone loss and inflamed, infected gums. An antibacterial mouthwash may help prevent periodontal disease by decreasing the amount of bad bacteria in the mouth. There is also type of rinse (Periogen) that has been found to dissolve tartar, stains, and plaque. This rinse is a great way to keep your teeth from rebuilding tartar between cleanings. This is a powder that can be diluted with water in a waterpik and tends to be even more effective if a capful of your fluoride rinse is added to it.

-Help Keep Pregnancy Gingivitis At Bay. It is important to maintain good oral hygiene at all times but for certain groups it is even more important. For pregnant women it can be critical to control oral health. During pregnancy, a woman’s hormones are elevated which makes them more susceptible to developing periodontal disease if their dental hygiene is not maintained. Periodontal disease in pregnant women has been linked to low weight and pre term babies.

-Help Diabetics. Patients with systemic diseases that make them more susceptible to infection like diabetics need to reduce the bacteria they are ingesting. It is even more critical to maintain good oral hygiene and mouthwashes are definitely recommended for those patients.

Therapeutic Mouthwash Disadvantages

-Canker Sore Irritant. This is caused when the alcohol content in your mouthwash is too high. It will irritate the canker sore and make it quite uncomfortable to use.

-Cover Up For Bad Breath. Use of a mouthwash can definitely lead to fresher breath but it is usually only for a short period of time. Only some mouthwashes are formulated to actually neutralize odor causing chemicals (example Closys). Not maintaining your dental hygiene, or chemicals from your diet are usually the underlying factors in most people’s bad breath but the mouthwash will just mask it for a short time.

-Alcohol Based Mouthwash. Studies (Listerine) have shown that rinses with alcohol, if used as directed can actually cause saliva production to be stimulated in a semi dry mouth. The alcohol in mouth rinses has historically been used as a way to cause the essential oils (the bacteria killing aspect) in the rinse to keep from separating out in the liquid, and staying mixed. No one wants to rinse with something oily feeling. There are now quite a few alternatives to alcohol to do the job, so alcohol free rinses have become more prevalent. Many people do not like the burning sensation of alcohol, and in people with little to no saliva flow, alcohol based rinses can be quite uncomfortable. The choice is based on personal preferences.

Mouthwash Use Conclusion

Using a mouthwash can be another tool to keep your mouth healthy and free of periodontal disease. If you decide to use a mouthwash as part of your dental hygiene routine remember to continue brushing and flossing as well. They work together not separately. There are a lot of mouthwashes on the market today, talk to your dentist to see which one is right for you.

 

As we grow up, we are told “drink your milk” for strong teeth and bones but that saying often gets forgotten as we get older. Keeping our bones and teeth healthy throughout life should be a high priority for aall of us. It allows us to prevent injuries as well as illness. Women can be especially susceptible to bone issues as they age. It has been reported that women can lose as much as 20% of the calcium in their bones after menopause. Good  nutrition, regular exercise, and maintaining proper oral hygiene become doubly important as we get older.

Tips To Maintain Teeth and Bones

-Regular Medical and Dental Check-Ups - Keep regular dental examination appointments. These visits should include a full dental examination, bone mineral density and bone mass testing.

-Maintain Good Posture – Keeping good posture will keep your bones and muscles aligned properly. This should be maintained in your daily life but also when exercising.

-Calcium & Casein Intake - Women over age 50 need 1000-1200 mg calcium (key to strong bones) a day from a combination of food and supplements. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the foods you eat regularly to see how much calcium you are getting from them, even the milk used in coffee. Every 10% of the Daily Value is equal to 100 mg of calcium. Dental Bonus: The casein in milk products helps fortify tooth surfaces against acids.

-Eat Plenty of Fruits & Vegetables - We should strive to consume at least 5 servings per day. Fruits and vegetables have many of the essential vitamins and minerals needed for bones. This includes magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Chewing fibrous vegetables like celery also stimulates salivary production. Increased saliva in the mouth will clean teeth and protect tooth enamel by diluting and washing away bacteria and food debris.

-Alcohol & Gum - Moderate drinking is actually been proven to be good for you. The equivalent of 1-2 glasses of wine a day has been reported to protect the bones of menopausal women. Sugarless gum containing xylitol can slow the action of bacteria that cause dental cavities. Products sweetened with xylitol create an unwelcome environment for bacteria. They simply cannot stick to teeth in a xylitol rich environment.  This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay. With Xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped. The bacteria in the mouth that are causing cavities are unable to digest xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced. The number of acid producing bacteria may decrease by as much as 90%. No acid is formed because the pH of saliva and plaque does not fall. After taking xylitol, the bacteria do not stick well on the surface of the teeth and as a result, the amount of plaque decreases.

-Fluids & Fluoride - Dry mouth increases the risk for oral diseases when the antimicrobial substances found in saliva are in short supply. Drinking fluoridated water serves double duty by keeping you hydrated and providing a source of fluoride which is needed to protect the teeth against tooth decay throughout life.

Conclusion

Staying healthy is never an easy task but to live a high quality life we must do our best. Following certain guidelines can really improve the quality of our lives as well as our loved ones. As always see your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.