Women's Health

Pregnancy and Oral Health

Pregnancy is a very special time. You'll want to think about taking good care of yourself and getting your baby's life off to a healthy start. Your oral health is an important part of your overall health, and good oral health habits not only help prevent oral problems during pregnancy, they also affect the health of your unborn child.

During pregnancy, there is a special need for good oral hygiene because pregnancy may exaggerate some disorders. Many people believe that a tooth is lost for every pregnancy. This is not true. Teeth are lost as a result of tooth decay or periodontal disease, not pregnancy.

Eating habits usually change during pregnancy and women may be mom susceptible to gingivitis because of increased hormone levels. Strict observance of good oral hygiene, regular professional cleanings, and a balanced diet can insure that you keep all your permanent teeth. It is common during pregnancy that your gums may become more tender. In addition they may be puffy or inflamed. It is very important to take even better care of your gums during the pregnancy. Coming in for routine cleanings during the pregnancy is strongly advised.

X-rays are important tools we use to help detect dental caries and other oral health problems Only the X-rays that are necessary for treatment will be taken at this time. The amount of radiation produced from our digital X-rays is very minute (approximately 80% less than conventional dental X-rays) and the beam is limited to a small region of the face. The use of lead aprons gives you additional protection.

Osteoporosis and Jaw Health

Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which bones are thin and weakened. The first sign of osteoporosis may be when a bone breaks. Risk factors that a person can change include diet, inactivity, smoking, use of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, whiskey, etc.) hormone levels, and being underweight. Increasing calcium and vitamin D in the diet, exercising, limiting alcohol use, quitting smoking, and certain medications may help prevent osteoporosis.

Researchers have suggested that there is a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. Studies suggest that osteoporosis may lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports the teeth may be decreased, which means the teeth no longer have a solid foundation. However, hormone replacement therapy or medications such, as Fosamax, may offer some protection. If you have taken medications for osteoporosis or osteopenia such as Actonel, Fosamax, or any other bisphosphonate, you must inform your dentist.

Facial Changes

Facial changes occur naturally as we age and lose tonicity in our facial muscles. When the teeth are lost or worn down, facial aging accelerates. The loss of teeth or tooth structure can add ten or more years to a person's face. This change is a result of a decrease in face height or vertical dimension. This results in several facial changes. The decrease in the angle next to the lips and deepening of vertical lines on the lips create a harsher appearance. As the vertical bone loss progressively and rapidly increases, the bite relationship deteriorates.

As a result, the chin rotates forward and gives a poorer facial appearance. These conditions result in a decrease in the angle at the comer of the lips, and the patient appears unhappy when the mouth is at rest.

These aesthetic changes can be minimized through advanced dental procedures. Call our office today for an evaluation of your individual needs.

Dry Mouth and Gum Disease

There are many medical conditions that can contribute to dry mouth, or xerostomia. Medication such as antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, diuretics, and hundreds of other medications list dry mouth as a possible side effect.

The effect of dry mouth on your oral health can be very significant. Without adequate saliva to lubricate your mouth, wash away food, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque, extensive cavities can form. The most common area that is damaged from dry mouth occurs at the gum line, where the teeth emerge from the gum tissue. It is very important to keep your mouth moist to prevent these potential gum-line cavities. Bad breath is common with dry mouth as well.

If you suffer from dry mouth, it is extremely important that you receive regular professional cleanings and oral examinations.

Some products that can help include:

  • Biotene and Oralbalance (Laciede Research Laboratories)
  • XeroLube (Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals)
  • Saliva substitute (Roxanne Laboratories)