Pregnancy affects your body from top to toes, and that includes your teeth. Whether you are already wearing braces when you become pregnant (you did know that adults can get braces?) or start your orthodontic treatment during your pregnancy, it’s important to take proper care of your braces and oral health. Here are some of the most important issues about caring for your braces and teeth when you’re pregnant, courtesy of Dr. Samuel Papandreas, of Papandreas Orthodontics in North Royalton, Ohio.
Pregnancy and Oral Health
The shifting hormonal levels of pregnancy cause a number of changes that can affect your oral health. You may develop dry mouth or inadequate saliva production, bad breath or even loose teeth. Morning sickness can expose your teeth to stomach acids and increase enamel wear. Pregnancy can increase the chances of developing gum disease (gingivitis) and infections (periodontitis). Your eating habits may change and many pregnant women develop food cravings; certain foods can be a problem when you have braces. Hormonal changes can affect tooth movement and if you gain considerable weight, it may change the shape of your gums, mouth or face, which may necessitate more frequent adjustments to your braces.
Ideally, you should see your regular dentist either before you become pregnant or as soon as you know you are pregnant. There is no risk in having dental X-rays at that stage, as the dentist can use special lead shielding to protect your baby. Make sure to tell both your regular dentist and your orthodontist about your pregnancy. You can have your teeth cleaned by the hygienist as you normally would, and it’s best to have a professional cleaning prior to getting metal braces put on. If you choose the clear plastic aligners called Invisalign, cleaning is no problem as the aligners are removable.
Just as you did before your pregnancy, you should floss daily and brush twice a day. With metal and ceramic braces, you’ll need to take extra care to clean not only the tooth surfaces but to ensure you don’t have bits of food trapped in wires or around brackets. Some women find that a regular tooth brush is all they need, while others find a waterpik is more effective. You’ll need to take extra care in flossing as well. When wearing braces, you might find that floss in a metal or plastic holder is easier to use than a piece of floss wrapped around your fingers.
When you’re pregnant, you really are eating for two. A healthy diet increases your chances of having a healthy baby and decreases the chances you will have nutrition-related problems. With metal and ceramic braces, you need to eliminate some foods entirely. Popcorn and hard candies, for example, increase the risk of breaking a wire or bracket. Any kind of sugary treat increases the risk of tooth decay, which can be more of an issue during pregnancy because your immune system is affected by shifting hormones. Refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice or baked goods have less nutritional value and leave a film on your teeth and braces. Choose high-quality proteins, fruits, vegetables, calcium rich dairy foods, whole grains and healthy fats like olive oil – good for your braces, baby and you.
Stay Alert for Problems
Since you are at higher risk for certain dental problems during pregnancy, it’s important to pay close attention to your oral health. You may find your teeth become more sensitive to temperature during pregnancy; this isn’t usually a major problem. If you’ve been wearing braces for a while once you become pregnant, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s “normal.” If you seem to be having more pain after an adjustment or your teeth start to hurt in between adjustments, it could mean your pregnancy is affecting tooth movement. Food cravings may be a sign that you need more nutrients. Cravings for nuts – which can break wires and brackets – could mean you need more iron, folate or vitamin B12. Healthy gums don’t usually bleed, nor are they puffy and reddened. These symptoms could be signs of gingivitis. Some women develop “pregnancy tumors.” These are swellings on the gums that look like raspberries; they typically occur in the second trimester. They are not cancer and usually go away after delivery, but may bleed easily. Tell your orthodontist about any of these symptoms as soon as you notice them.
Wearing braces during pregnancy is not all that different from wearing braces at any other time in your life. As far as timing, you can start your orthodontic treatments just before or during your pregnancy. You might also want to consider that it’s better to be dealing with orthodontic appointments while you’re pregnant than when you’re chasing an active toddler. If you pay attention to potential problems, follow good oral hygiene practices and eat a healthy diet, you are unlikely to have any problems. Of course, you can always contact us for any problems or questions you may have.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
You can contact a practitioner like Papandreas Orthodontics to get some work done on your teeth. The office specializes in procedures such as braces, Invisalign, corrective appliances and more. You can schedule an appointment and see if the specialists recommend braces, Invisalign or something different that can make your life better. You have two choices for contact.
Dr. Samuel Papandreas provides expert orthodontic care for adults, teenagers, and children at his facilities in:
• Brunswick, Ohio
• North Royalton, Ohio
His patients are fitted with customized orthodontic devices that include:
• Braces – color-matching ceramic or metal devices
• Retainers – worn at night when your braces are removed
• Invisalign aligners – clear plastic devices
• Palatal expanders – worn before your orthodontic treatment begins
You can schedule an appointment with Papandreas Orthodontics to learn about the best type of orthodontic treatment for you and your children to improve your smile correct your dental bite.
How to Care for Braces During Pregnancy