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Ever heard the old saying “Have a baby, lose a tooth?” While the calcium needed to build your baby’s bones comes from your diet- not your teeth- your pearly whites could be at risk from pregnancy gingivitis. The malady, which affects nearly all expectant moms, crops up when dilated blood vessels leave gums swollen, tender, and less resistant to infection. And since puffy gums give germs more places to hide, cavities are ten times more likely during pregnancy.
What to do about it: Keep germs in check by brushing your teeth and tongue with a soft-bristled toothbrush after meals and morning sickness. Floss your teeth and swish with an antimicrobial mouthwash once a day, too. Don’t skip your checkups (just be sure to let the dentist know you’re pregnant, and ask her to save the dental x-rays for another visit). In fact, you may want to step up the frequency of professional cleanings, since they’ll prevent gingivitis from turning into a full-blown gum infection.
Take stock of the medicines you have handy at home to ensure you have what you need, and get rid of what you don’t. Your inventory will vary slightly if you have children and depends on your overall health and which prescription medications you are taking.
Discard old medications since they start to lose potency after the expiration date. Eye drops that have touched the eye or cough syrups that have been ingested straight from the bottle can become contaminated.
Do not use prescriptions you no longer need. Taking an antibiotic without specific indications does more harm than good, since more and more bacteria is becoming resistant to antibiotics, mainly from inappropriate use. The antibiotic tetracycline can actually become toxic over time.
Store medications in a cool, dry place; which may or may not be the medicine cabinet. Keep medicines in the airtight containers in which they are dispensed; exposure to air, moisture or heat can effect the potency of the drugs. Wherever you keep your medications, make sure they are out of reach of children.
Suggestions for your medicine cabinet:
- Chewable aspirin (325 mg) to chew immediately if concerns about a heart attack arise
- Antacid for heartburn
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever or pain
- Antihistamine for allergies and allergic reactions
- Decongestant for head congestion
- Saline spray and drops for irrigating nose or eyes
- Cough medicine with dextromethopham (acts as a cough suppressant)
- Oral re-hydrating solution for diarrhea or vomiting
- Antibacterial ointment to put on wound before you dress it; hydrogen peroxide to clean and sterilize cuts and scratches
- Nasal spray for colds
- Gauze and adhesive bandages to clean and dress cuts or scrapes
- Thermometer (and alcohol to clean it between uses)
- Ipecac (to induce vomiting; only use under a physician’s direction)
- 1 percent hydrocortisone cream for certain rashes
Seniors should keep a list of all the medications they are taking– including nonprescription– to show their dentist.
Over-the-counter medications can interact with prescription medications, especially ones that the elderly tend to take. For example, the combination of acetaminophen and blood thinners can increase bleeding risk.
Ibuprofen can also increase blood pressure in certain people. Some patients may be on several types of blood pressure medications, but fail to tell the doctor they are taking ibuprofen regularly for pain. Eliminating the ibuprofen may reduce the need for a second, third or forth blood pressure medication. To avoid over-medication or drug interactions, make sure your dentist is aware of all your medications.