I am still reeling from my dental appointment last Friday. My X-rays show that I have a whopping 8 cavities and also need a replacement of one of my crowns. I am feeling dazed, confused, and a little angry. Yes, I’m having a “Not fair!” and “Poor me!” moment.
A little background: My last X-rays were in November 2008. I had lost my dental insurance and only recently gotten it back that month. After more than 8 years away from the dentist, I finally slunk back in for a cleaning. The dentist told me I had 2 cavities that needed filling, but I also needed 3 new crowns. She said, “Not too bad for not having seen a dentist in 8 years!” Now, fast forward. November 2009: Couldn’t get X-rayed, because I was pregnant (Yay!). November 2010: Didn’t get X-rayed, because I was a new Mom and so so so sleep-deprived. Now June 2011: 8 CAVITIES AND A CROWN REPLACEMENT!! AAGGHH!!!!!
What the heck happened? How can I go 8 years and get only 2 cavities, and then 2.5 years later, have 8 cavities? Nothing has changed in my teeth-cleaning habits. Nothing has changed in my diet – if anything, it has gotten healthier. The only thing I can think of is…I had a baby? The dentist seemed to agree with this statement. She said she hears from new Moms all the time, “I’ve never had cavities before…how come I have so many now?” She thinks it’s because breastfeeding babies “leach a lot of calcium” from their Moms. I wonder if that is true…it *seems* kind of far-fetched, but I do feel, on an energetic level, like I am transferring a great deal of my health and vitality to my baby (along with my youth and beauty too, haha).
I went home and vented my 8-cavities-news to my mother-in-law, and she said, “You know what? The only two times in my life I’ve ever needed a tooth extraction are right after I gave birth to your hubby and your sister-in-law. Maybe there is some truth to that – that new mothers have worse teeth.” So I started looking on-line for information about new mothers and increased cavities. I found this article that says new Moms have more cavities due to acid reflux – basically, that the nausea during pregnancy causes vomiting, the stomach acids stay on the teeth, sometimes the acids sit in your mouth and you don’t feel like brushing, etc. But that article doesn’t feel right to me, because I didn’t throw up even once during my entire 9 months of pregnancy, nor did I miss an opportunity to brush my teeth. So then I found another article that gave three reasons for why women get more cavities in general, two of which are pregnancy-related:
- Estrogen levels have a lot to do with cavity formation, and “Estrogen is produced by the placenta throughout a pregnancy and the levels increase steadily until birth.” (Is this true? I thought this was progesterone).
- Women produce less saliva than men. (Haha, I could make some smarty-pants comment here about men and drool, but I will refrain.)
- Women get cravings during their 3rd trimester of pregnancy and eat significantly more high-energy, sweet foods during this time, which contributes to dental cavities and decay. (Okay, well, guilty as charged. I was having two Coca-Colas a day in my 3rd trimester – but I was definitely flossing and brushing still).
I still wonder, though, if it was more than just the extra Cokes that caused all these new problems in my teeth, and in my health in general. Since giving birth, you name it, I’ve got it: low back pain, fatigue, more gray hairs, less energy, etc. etc. In Chinese culture, women who give birth are looked after for a month by other women called, “Yue zi,” and during this time, there is a strong focus on “repairing” or “replenishing” the nutrients and “qi” (translated, qi is something like “life force” or “vitality” or “life energy”) lost during the process of having a baby. Things the new mother would do, for example, would include sitting over a brazier of boiling Cinnamon and eating bowls and bowls of red bean soup (to restore the Blood, as defined in Chinese medicine). I used to pooh-pooh my Chinese heritage and discount a lot of the things my Mother told me to do as “superstition,” but now that I am older and wiser, I am coming full circle and going “back to my roots,” as it were. But that is fodder for another post.
Anyways, do other new Moms also share a similar experience with regard to teeth (or health in general)? Do you suddenly have more cavities than you did before? Anyone got any good information on this that they want to share?