Oral Health for Breastfeeding Moms
Your teeth go through many changes during pregnancy, but did you know that they change during breastfeeding as well? If you decide to breastfeed your child, you need to remember to take good care of your teeth. Learn about common dental issues in breastfeeding mothers and how to take care of your mouth during this stage in motherhood.
How Does Breastfeeding Affect Dental Health?
When you breastfeed, your body doesn’t go through as many physical changes as it did during pregnancy. However, it needs to compensate for the nutrition you make for your baby.
During lactation, your bones break down to send more calcium into your bloodstream, and your kidneys release less calcium into your urine to save it for your milk. If your mouth bones break down too much, though, you can experience problems with your gums and teeth.
Much of the impact that breastfeeding has on your oral health comes from less self-care. Looking after a newborn is difficult, and it gives you less time to care for yourself. To compensate, mothers might neglect or forget about basic oral hygiene or proper hydration because they’re focused on caring for their baby.
Common Dental Issues in Breastfeeding Mothers
Nursing moms often deal with oral health problems such as:
- Gingivitis: Breastfeeding’s impact on the bones in your mouth can result in inflamed gums and other periodontal issues. When left unaddressed, periodontal diseases like gingivitis can result in tooth loss.
- Cavities and tooth decay: When you don’t take regular care of your teeth, you have a higher risk of tooth decay.
- Calcium deficiency: You need calcium to maintain healthy bones and teeth, but you lose it more easily when you breastfeed. Lactating women don’t have a higher recommended daily amount than those who aren’t nursing, but they can experience worse problems when they don’t get enough calcium.
- Teeth grinding: The position of your muscles during breastfeeding and the stress of motherhood can create tension in your neck and head. This tension sometimes causes mothers to grind their teeth in their sleep.
- Dry mouth: When you don’t drink enough water, you can get a dry mouth. Breastfeeding mothers often need a higher fluid intake than pregnant and non-pregnant women. However, their busy lives make them susceptible to not drinking enough fluids.
Maintaining Oral Health for Nursing Mothers
Breastfeeding mothers should pay close attention to oral health during nursing. You should take care of your teeth during every stage of life, but the changes in life situation and physiology make dental care critical when breastfeeding. Keep your teeth healthy by:
- Drinking fluids when you feel thirsty: Remember to drink a tooth-healthy beverage like water when you get thirsty. You will make more saliva that cleans and protects your teeth naturally.
- Brush twice a day and floss once daily: Maintain regular oral hygiene, no matter how busy you get.
- Get enough calcium: The Dietitians of Canada recommend a daily calcium intake of 1,000 mg or two servings of milk/alternatives.