A study in 2015 showed that over 80% of people think their teeth look BAD in photographs. It also found that nearly 30% of people don’t show their teeth when smiling in photos on social media because they don’t like the way their teeth look. That’s a lot of people that are unhappy with the look […]
Did you know that you could actually save hundreds of dollars by using your dental benefits before the end of the year? This is a fact that many people simply do not know. While some dental insurance plans run on a fiscal year, many others run on a traditional calendar year. If your dental insurance plan runs on a […]
When expecting a new addition to their families, few women stop to think about how pregnancy may impact their dental health. However, shifting hormone levels paired with the delicacy of fetal development makes caring for a woman’s teeth during pregnancy critical both for their own health and that of her unborn baby.
Dentists should encourage patients considering conceiving to visit them pre-pregnancy as well as throughout their gestation period. Periodontal disease may permit dangerous bacteria to enter the mother’s bloodstream, potentially causing harm to her fetus. Dental health professionals can significantly reduce these risks by educating their clientele on proper oral hygiene while they’re expecting.
Preferably, women should book an appointment with their dental-care provider for a thorough cleaning and allow their dentist to check for any signs of gingivitis. Patients exhibiting signs of swollen, bloody gums should receive treatment before conceiving. Dental best practices include educating female patients of childbearing age about the importance of pre and postnatal oral care.
Prostaglandin in a pregnant woman’s mouth can significantly impact the chances of premature birth when it enters the bloodstream via cuts in the gum line. Infants born too early often need intensive hospital care to complete development. This puts an added economic strain on families during what is already a stressful time.
Diet During Pregnancy
Medical professionals have long known the importance of vitamin D in helping the body process calcium and magnesium, minerals important to oral health. However, only approximately 18 percent of expecting womenget their recommended daily amount of this vital nutrient.
Seek prenatal vitamins that include vitamin D or invest in a separate supplement. Dairy and fish both contain high levels of vitamin D, and seafood also offers essential fatty acids required for fetal neurological development.
How Pregnancy Hormones Affect Dental Care
The hormonal changes women experience during pregnancy impacts both teeth and gums. Women who experience morning sickness unwillingly expose their teeth to corrosive stomach acids, which can destroy tooth enamel. As the smell and taste of toothpaste can further nauseate pregnant women, rinse after vomiting with a mild baking soda and water solution to remove the acid. The baking soda neutralizes any remaining stomach acids on the teeth.
Babies born to mothers suffering from periodontal disease often suffer lower birth weights than those of mothers with healthy gums. As the disease progresses slowly, expectant mothers should undergo regular dental checkups throughout pregnancy to catch and reverse early cases.
What’s Safe and What’s Not
During pregnancy, the general rule states that maintaining regular dental care improves birth outcomes. However, dental health practitioners should urge patients to postpone elective services such as getting new braces or undergoing tooth whitening.
Dentists should likewise inquire as to all medications the pregnant woman takes, including over-the-counter supplements. Some drugs cause a decrease in saliva production, leading to dry mouth. With inadequate saliva production, food particles remain trapped in teeth longer, causing decay.
Other medications cause swollen gums or changes to gum tissue. Such patients should take care to see their dentists with increased frequency during pregnancy as their risk of developing gingivitis increases significantly.
Finally, women may safely undergo dental X-rays while expecting. Dentists should exercise additional precautions, such as covering the woman’s thyroid and abdomen before taking images.
Once a Woman Gives Birth
Once a woman gives birth, her body continues to undergo hormonal changes. While the postpartum period contains a ton of new responsibilities, reach out to new mothers and remind them of the importance of undergoing a thorough mouth examination to check for any gum disease and to pursue more aggressive treatment regimens if necessary. Breastfeeding mothers are especially vulnerable to gingivitis, cavities and calcium deficiency.
Dentists should likewise remind patients of protecting the oral health of their children. While most children don’t have a full mouth of pearly whites until their third birthday, dental care begins even before teething. Instruct new moms to feed infants breast milk, water or formula, and urge them to refrain from giving babies sweet juice drinks and other sugary beverages.
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby
Maintaining proper dental hygiene before, during and after pregnancy improves health outcomes for mothers and children alike. Dental health professionals should educate parents-to-be about what to expect and what problems to look for. When dentists and parents work together, more children have the opportunity to grow up strong.
Smile…It’s Good For You
We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but just go ahead and try to laugh without smiling!
And we all know that when we feel good we tend to smile more, but did you know that the reverse may be true as well?
That is, just the simple act of smiling can be good for our health.
Even though smiles have been said to be incredibly contagious, cracking a smile is scientifically proven to be good for your overall health.
In a 2012 study, published in issue of Psychological Science, researchers at the University of Kansas found that the act of smiling has a positive effect on our happiness and physical health, helping the heart recover more quickly after stressful events.
The Science of Smiling
According to the Psychological Science study, and this associated article from The Telegraph, Tara Kraft, of the University of Kansas, said:
“Age old adages, such as ‘grin and bear it’ have suggested smiling to be not only an important nonverbal indicator of happiness but also wishfully promotes smiling as a panacea for life’s stressful events.
“We wanted to examine whether these adages had scientific merit; whether smiling could have real health-relevant benefits.”
Ms. Kroft and Dr. Sarah Pressman divided smiles into two categories – standard smiles, which use the muscles surrounding the mouth, and genuine or Duchenne smiles, which engage the muscles surrounding both the mouth and eyes.
Kraft and Pressman worked to manipulate the types of smiles to examine the effects on stress.
The results of the study showed that smiling during brief periods of stress can actually help to reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response, regardless of whether you actually feel happy or not.
Dr. Pressman went on to say:
“The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment.
“Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well.”
National Smile Month
The month of May gives us many reasons to smile here in the U.S., but aside from the warmer weather, Mother’s Day, & Memorial Day, May 18th-June 18th also gives us all another reason to exercise our smile muscles – National Smile Month.
National Smile Month was started in the U.K., it’s the UK’s largest and longest-running oral health campaign and is sponsored by the British Dental Health Foundation.
In 2009 the National Smile Month campaign ran simultaneously in the U.K. and U.S.A. for the first time.
Let’s hope more dentists around the world, international health organizations, dental colleges & universities, municipalities, & other industry players get more involved as National Smile Month continues to promote the message that oral health IS overall health.
And that smiling is good for our health!
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