When you’re a new mum it’s easy to let normal routines slip, and often taking care of yourself can be far down your list of priorities. Something as simple as brushing your teeth can become more of an occasional task than a twice-daily regime when your life is suddenly revolving around a young baby.
But taking care of your oral health becomes even more important when you’re a mum because irregular dental care can open the door to gum disease and cavities. Doing your best to maintain good oral health routines will help to reduce your vulnerability to other dental issues developing.
If you haven’t always maintained good oral health habits, ideally these should begin during pregnancy. Pregnancy places extra demands for calcium on your body, which can make your teeth susceptible to calcium deprivation. And vomiting caused by morning sickness can coat your teeth with strong stomach acids, potentially damaging the tooth enamel and making you vulnerable to tooth decay. Always rinse your mouth with water after vomiting to help remove as much acid as possible. However, it’s good to wait for around half an hour before brushing your teeth. The stomach acids soften tooth enamel, so temporarily delaying brushing gives the enamel time to recover.
Staying hydrated is important for everyone, but especially for new mums. Breastfeeding, broken sleep, stress and fatigue all take a physical toll, so ensuring you drink enough water every day should be a priority. The lack of saliva in a dry mouth also increases the risk of gum disease.
And it’s not just about you – poor oral health can also potentially impact on your baby. Increased bacteria in your mouth caused by a lack of brushing and flossing can transfer to your baby’s mouth through the simple act of sharing a spoon. Once your baby is eating solids it’s not recommended to share utensils because of possible bacteria transfer, even if you have great oral health.
We also tend to see a rise in teeth grinding, or bruxism, in new mums. Stress is one of the main causes of teeth grinding. Increased stress levels postnatally can lead to extra tension in the head, neck and jaw. Teeth clenching and grinding can significantly damage teeth by wearing down the enamel, so it’s important to see your dentist if this is an issue for you. A custom-made night guard may be a good option for protecting your teeth while stress levels are high.
So even in those chaotic early days of having a new baby, try to prioritise your oral health for your own sake as well as that of your baby’s. And if you have any concerns see your Dentist early to stop any minor issues from turning into major ones.