disclosure: This post is an entry for BritMums’ #ORALBLoveYourGums Challenge sponsored by Oral-B, promoting healthy gums – something especially important for pregnant women. Get tips and advice on www.oralb-loveyourgums.com
When BritMums mentioned the #ORALBLoveYourGums Challenge I knew it was my time to admit the full horror of my battle with gum disease. I’ve had a 4-year battle to stop my gums from receding to the point of no return. It hasn’t been pleasant and is all down to my own stupidity! There I said it before any of you could. I had a very unpleasant experience when I was 18, having my top wisdom teeth out. I’d never relished the visits to the dentist but had always gone religiously for check-ups etc. That one day, put me off dentists for the next 20 years. I’m a fairly intelligent, sometimes articulate human being, but you mention dentists to me and I would feel physically sick. I would get sweaty palms, I would cross the road rather than walk past a dentists. You had more chance of me swimming underwater (anyone who knows me, knows that that is NEVER going to happen) than getting me anywhere near a dentist.
Oral-B who is running a Love Your Gums campaign to educate about the importance of healthy gums. Many people don’t realise that most people will get gum health issues at some point in their lives and it’s the biggest cause of tooth loss. For women especially during pregnancy, paying attention to gum health is important as research shows that more than 1 in 2 women will develop gum problems during pregnancy such as swollen, bleeding gums.
I used a normal toothbrush to brush my teeth regularly, twice a day, flossed (ok that wasn’t as regular as it should have been) and I never had a toothache – what did I need to see a dentist for? Yes, my gums bled, but that was probably just me brushing too hard, right?
When I fell pregnant with my little boy, I was alerted to the fact that visiting a dentist would be a VERY good idea. If I had bleeding gums before I was pregnant, I could expect trouble ahead. Gum disease in pregnancy is a very common occurrence if you don’t look after your teeth and gums properly. Somehow I plucked up the courage to register and make an appointment to see a local dentist. Thank god she was on time or I’m not sure I’d have actually made it to the chair.
My dentist could see that I was pretty much in tears and shaking like a leaf. She was so good with me, calmed me down to a point where I could actually talk and got me in the dentist’s chair. It wasn’t good news. Obviously, as I was pregnant x-rays were a no go area, but she could see no tooth decay. That’s good. Well yes, BUT, we do have a big problem. You have chronic gum disease. Ok, so how do you fix it. Well it’s not that easy, you’re gums are receding really badly, gums don’t grow back. We need to act now or you WILL lose teeth.
So ok, I’ve been a total idiot. But I’m certainly over my fear of dentists now! Visits every 3 months for the last 4 years have seen to that! I had to buy an electric toothbrush – it’s an Oral B one, had to use a special toothpaste and mouthwash which stained my teeth brown – not a good look, especially when children started to ask me what was wrong with them – um, stupid adult moment. Along with deep cleaning at the dentist, the special toothpaste and mouthwash, and really regular flossing, I had to start using dental floss brushes as the gaps between my teeth are much larger than the norm.
Over 3 and half years of constant attention my dentist was happy that we’d turned a corner, all except for one vital area, my top front teeth. She could see that I was doing everything she’d asked me to do, she could see that my gums were much improved and in general, the bleeding had stopped as had the recession of my gums. BUT things were not going well in this area. Luckily from the beginning of this year, the NHS started funding for the treatment of gum disease in our county. She said I was a prime candidate to be the first referral.
So after some form filling, I was referred to a specialist in Aylesbury who did x-rays and measurements. She confirmed that there were two possible options but I would be referred on again to see a consultant. I was then sent to High Wycombe to see a consultant from London. She said the only option was surgery, and that I would need to book an appointment for one and half hours. Good job I’d overcome that fear – right?
So I went back for the surgery, she said she’d have to cut my gum but it didn’t really register what that meant. Until afterwards. I had a load of stitches around my front teeth and a gap of 11mm (trust me, that’s BIG) going up between two of my front teeth. I was in shock. Two weeks later I was back to have the stitches out – the gum had healed nicely and she was pleased that no further treatment from her was needed.
I’m still too embarrassed to bear all to my family and close friends, so I’m afraid you guys will just have to take my word for it, that looking after your teeth and gums is VITAL, especially in pregnancy. Don’t wait until it is critical, don’t be a fool like me. I have to think before I smile these days, so PLEASE look after your gums now!
Now on the positive side, 4 years later, I can now use normal toothpaste – no more brown stains all over my teeth. I can use a normal mouthwash – I use an Oral B one. I will always use my electric toothbrush, it’s great/ I will always floss twice a day and will always need to also use the dental floss brushes too. But my gum disease is in order, my dentist is talking about moving me back to 6 monthly check-ups. We’re going to review that at my next visit in November. I have to say I’m actually quite nervous about not seeing her every 3 months. I NEVER want to deal with gum disease like this again.
So when I was set the #ORALBLoveYourGums Challenge and offered the chance to try the Oral B Pro-Expert Premium Gum Protection toothpaste – how could I, of all people, refuse. This toothpaste seems a bit thicker than my normal brand, but there’s no nasty aftertaste and I’m happy that it’s going to keep my gum disease at bay. In fact, the taste is minty and reminds me of eating a certain loop-shaped mint. I have healthy gums after 4 years of hard work. It’s a good place to be, but if I’d just looked after my teeth and gums, for all those years, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I wouldn’t have a big gap in my gum. I wouldn’t feel like a fool.
I have so much to thank my beautiful son for, and actually, if I’m totally honest, if I hadn’t been pregnant, I would almost certainly not have some of my teeth today. I would have extremely severe gum disease – it’s not a good thing to admit.