Have a baby, lose a tooth,” might seem like just a myth to some. But for me, the old adage hits way too close to home.

When I recently broke a filling as a result of my constant teeth grinding and found the need for a new mouthguard that is more linebacker than ladylike, it dawned on me that my dental problems as of late were possibly my fault. 

I never had more than a few cavities growing up. After giving birth twice in less than two years, I found myself shocked with bad news at each biannual cleaning. 

dentist consulting with a patient in a chair
Photo by Caroline LM on Unsplash

Thankfully, my current dentist is a very sweet person and before he began to repair my filling in the hopes of saving me from getting a crown, he reminded me that this is not my fault. I never miss a cleaning, brush and floss twice a day, use fluoride mouthwash, and drink lots of water. 

What I can’t do anything about is the amount of calcium my body took from my teeth both during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

I also can’t quit unconsciously grinding my teeth at night. Like so many parents, I am under what one might call a “wee bit of stress” during the day. These factors combined with multiple children, and there’s no wonder why I have had some dental complications as a result of joining the Mommy Club. 

Unlike some of the visible effects of pregnancy like stretch marks, losing calcium from our teeth isn’t something you’re necessarily aware of until your dentist finds a cavity or you’re experiencing pain. 

There are no guidelines for breastfeeding mothers to increase their calcium levels beyond continuing to take their prenatal vitamins, so I was pretty sure that taking those and my love of all things dairy would have protected me. Alas, it did not. 

While I may not be able to reverse the effects of my childbearing and breastfeeding years, I can suggest a few things if you are expecting or have a new baby.

Get the extra cleaning during pregnancy:

Morning sickness, increased snacking, and the propensity for inflamed gums, and periodontal problems from extra hormones make it even more important that you get your regular cleanings. And, guess what? Your dental insurance most likely covers you for that extra cleaning during pregnancy. Take advantage of it. After all, you’re paying for it.

Continue taking care of your teeth even when you have a newborn.

Lots of things take a back seat when you have a new baby. Like showering and eating, make caring for your dental health part of your overall self-care routine. Not flossing can cause cavities and gingivitis down the road, and that’s honestly not the reason you want to call up the babysitter rather than using your alone time for a quiet coffee or solo Target run.

Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. 

Even if you are unable to or prefer not to eat dairy, get plenty of calcium in your diet. Some great alternatives to dairy include almonds, white beans, canned salmon, spinach, kale, and calcium fortified foods like certain cereals.

Drink plenty of water.

This is especially important if you’re currently pregnant or breastfeeding. Drinking plenty of water is always a good idea, but did you know that it can also protect your oral health by creating enough saliva to naturally clean and protect your teeth? Just like skipping your daily dental care routine, this is not something to neglect when you find yourself busy with a baby. 

So the next time you find yourself scheduling your children’s dental checkups, make sure to  get yourself an appointment as well. Staying on top of your dental health is crucial to your overall health, and it just might save you some pain down the road.

Have you experienced postpartum dental problems?

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