I’ll never forget the moment I realized that one of the scariest postpartum changes wasn’t happening down there.
One day, about six weeks after the birth of my first baby, I noticed it for the first time when reached for the toothbrush.
My teeth! They had… moved?!
I quickly searched for photos on my phone to do a side by side comparison of the panicked selfie I had taken in the mirror.
Sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed. My front teeth had actually shifted out of their straight line! Bummer.
Even as a dentist, I had no idea that this was a common postpartum occurrence, along with many other unfavorable side effects of the major shifts in hormones.
Since that fateful day seven years ago, I’ve thrown myself into understanding how a woman’s oral health changes after birth. Here’s everthing you need to know about postpartum oral health:
(Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means I am paid a small commission when you purchase through the links- but don’t worry, I only share the products I love and trust!)
Loose and Shifting Teeth
One notable hormone produced during pregnancy is relaxin. Its primary role is to relax the ligaments in the pelvis, preparing your body for childbirth. However, relaxin doesn’t discriminate; it can also affect the ligaments supporting your teeth. As a result, some women may experience temporary tooth loosening and shifting during pregnancy.
While this phenomenon can be alarming, rest assured that it is usually temporary. Once your body returns to its pre-pregnancy hormonal state, your teeth should stabilize. To minimize concerns, consider visiting your dentist during pregnancy for a thorough check-up. They can monitor any changes and provide guidance on maintaining oral health during this time.
Hormonal changes can lead to increased gum sensitivity. Many expectant mothers notice that their gums become more prone to inflammation and bleeding, especially during brushing and flossing. This heightened gum sensitivity can be attributed to increased blood flow to the gums and changes in the body’s response to plaque.
To address gum sensitivity during pregnancy, opt for a soft-bristle toothbrush, and use gentle brushing techniques. Consider using a toothbrush designed for sensitive gums, which can provide a more comfortable brushing experience.
Additionally, maintain regular dental check-ups during pregnancy. Your dentist can monitor your gum health, provide professional cleanings, and offer guidance on maintaining healthy gums throughout this period.
Pregnancy places significant demands on your body, and nutrient deficiencies can impact both your overall well-being and your oral health. Let’s explore the key nutrients that play a vital role in maintaining your postpartum oral health:
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium is crucial for strong teeth and bones, while vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption. During pregnancy and lactation, your body’s calcium demands increase to support your growing baby’s skeletal development. As a result, your teeth and bones may become more susceptible to calcium depletion.
To ensure you’re meeting your calcium needs, consider incorporating dairy products and leafy greens into your diet. Vitamin D sources include sunlight exposure and certain foods like fatty fish. If you’re concerned about your calcium and vitamin D intake, consult with a healthcare professional about appropriate supplements.
Vitamin C plays a vital role in supporting gum health and tissue repair. During pregnancy, your gums may become more sensitive, making them prone to inflammation and bleeding. Adequate vitamin C intake can help combat these issues by promoting gum tissue strength and healing.
Include vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers in your diet. These can help support your gums and overall oral health.
Vitamin K2 is essential for proper calcium utilization in teeth and bones. It helps ensure that calcium is deposited where it belongs, contributing to the strength and integrity of your dental structures. A deficiency in vitamin K2 may lead to an imbalance in calcium metabolism, potentially affecting your oral health.
To increase your vitamin K2 intake, consider incorporating fermented foods like sauerkraut, natto, or aged cheeses into your diet. These foods are rich in this essential nutrient and can contribute to your oral wellness.
How to Improve Postpartum Oral Health
Maintaining optimal postpartum oral health isn’t limited to addressing hormonal changes and nutrient deficiencies. Holistic approaches can further enhance your well-being during this transformative time.
Balanced nutrition is fundamental to your overall health, including your oral wellness. As a new mother, your dietary choices can significantly impact your energy levels, mood, and healing process. Embrace a diet rich in whole, nourishing foods.
- Tooth-Friendly Foods: Focus on foods that support dental health, such as leafy greens, dairy products, lean proteins, and crunchy fruits and vegetables. These choices can help keep your teeth and gums strong and resilient.
- Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is crucial for saliva production, which helps maintain a healthy oral pH balance. Opt for water as your primary beverage to support oral hydration.
Oral Hygiene Practices
Consistent oral hygiene practices are essential for maintaining your oral health during the postpartum period. Proper brushing and flossing routines can help prevent cavities and gum issues. Here are some tips for maintaining good oral hygiene:
- Soft-Bristle Toothbrush: Use a soft-bristle electric toothbrush to avoid irritation and damage to sensitive gums.
- Regular Dental Check-Ups: Continue scheduling regular dental check-ups during the postpartum period. Your dentist can provide professional cleanings and address any emerging issues promptly.
Supplement When Necessary
If you’re still struggling with bleeding gums and sensitive teeth with excellent nutrition, consider supplementing. These Recovery Drops contain Vitamin C, Nettle Leaf, Hibiscus flower, and Shizandra fruit, and will provide 100% of your recommended Vitamin C intake to improve your gum health. Use the code MOLLY15 for a discount on your purchase!
If you experience gum discomfort or inflammation during the postpartum period, consider these remedies to soothe your gums:
- Saltwater Rinses: Gargling with warm saltwater can provide relief from gum soreness and inflammation. Simply dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and rinse your mouth.
- Herbal Mouthwashes: Herbal mouthwashes containing ingredients like chamomile or calendula can be soothing and supportive of gum health.
Your postpartum time should be filled with healing, rest, and plenty of oxytocin from those baby snuggles. Kick dental problems to the curb with the tips in this post!