While not exactly common, it is also not unusual for us to hear a woman say, “Doc, I never had any cavities until after my baby; I heard that the baby steals the calcium from teeth before they’re born. What do I do?”
Can Your Baby “Steal” Calcium from Your Teeth to Cause Cavities?
The simple answer to the question is good news: “NO!” 😀 The more complicated answer is, “Well, kind of.” 😕 How?
First of all, if you think about it, there is no way for a baby to “steal” the calcium or phosphates or fluoride from your teeth. I mean, how could that happen? The minerals somehow get sucked through the nerve chambers in your teeth, into the blood stream, and to the baby in the womb or to breast milk? Not likely! OK, so how about the minerals somehow get sucked out of the teeth into your saliva, down into your stomach, get absorbed, and then to the baby? Again, not gonna happen!
So Why Do New Mothers Get More Cavities?
The answer is remarkably simple, but so often overlooked: stomach acid via acid reflux! Doesn’t that just make sense really? Just consider these items and check out the graph to see where stomach acid falls on the scale:
- Most women experience significant nausea during pregnancy – daily exposure of the teeth to stomach acid when you throw up will cause serious problems if it is for months on end.
- All that pressure on your insides pushes the acid into the esophagus, especially as the baby grows and starts kicking; especially if this happens at night, that acidity will just sit in your mouth for hours at a time, far worse than soda.
- The nausea can make it difficult to brush your teeth, simply because the taste and feel of the toothpaste can trigger nausea.
- If you’ve had more than 1 baby, multiply everything above times the number of babies!
So now you know why your baby didn’t “steal” the calcium from your teeth and cause cavities, but now you want to know:
7 Ways Keep My Teeth Healthy During Pregnancy and After a Baby?
There are a few very simple and effective ways to prevent cavities during and after pregnancy:
- Make sure you brush and floss at least twice/day, more if possible
- If you throw up, rinse your mouth with water and spit right away – the longer the acid sits on the teeth, the worse the damage
- REALLY try to avoid acidic foods and drinks, such as tomato sauces, orange and fruit juices, sodas, etc. This is like multiplying the problem.
- Do NOT use abrasive toothpastes, such as those that promote whitening
- Regularly use chewing gum with Xylitol sweetener, which bacteria can’t process. Chewing gum stimulates saliva to wash the acidity away.
- Use an over-the-counter fluoride-containing mouthrinse like ACT (not something with alcohol, such as Listerine or Scope).
- Talk with your dentist about a remineralizing paste such as MI Paste Plus, which helps put back calcium, phosphates, and fluoride to keep your teeth strong.
OK, there you go! Babies don’t cause cavities, but all that nausea and/or acid reflux during and after pregnancy sure can, but you can stop them!
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