During pregnancy, you are at a greater risk of experiencing tooth decay and inflammation of your gums. That’s why keeping your mouth healthy during pregnancy is not only safe but important.Receiving proper dental care while pregnant is beneficial to your and your baby’s overall health. Not only can your dentist take care of any routine issues you might have, such as getting your teeth cleaned and a cavity filled, but a trained dental health professional can also detect any pregnancy-related dental issues. While maintaining oral health is important at any point, it becomes crucial during pregnancy because it can directly affect your own health and the health of your baby. Here’s what you need to know about concerns and safety when you see a dentist during pregnancy.
What You Should Disclose to Your DentistMost procedures are best done before the third trimester, simply for reasons of comfort. Other non-emergency types of treatment might be postponed based on your medical history and current condition. When you make an appointment, please let your dentist know:
- That you’re pregnant
- How far along you are
- Whether your pregnancy is high-risk
- Whether you have any pre-existing or recently developed medical conditions (due to pregnancy)
- What medications you’re taking
- Whether you’ve received any advice or recommendations from your obstetrician or any other doctor overseeing your pregnancy.
Increased Pregnancy-Related RisksPregnancy can affect some existing conditions or cause some new, albeit temporary, ones to crop up. The most common examples include:
- Increased risk of tooth decay: Due to hormonal changes, change in eating habits (eating more carbs than usual, for example), and enamel erosion due to increased exposure to acid because of morning sickness.
- Pregnancy gingivitis: A “light” form of gum disease caused by bacterial infection and manifested in inflammation, swelling, tenderness, and bleeding. Like any infection, if left untreated it can affect your overall health, so it should be addressed as soon as possible.
- “Pregnancy tumors,” a temporary gum tissue overgrowth that might show up during the second trimester and cause discomfort and bleeding. Talk to your dentist about the possibility of removal, although in most cases the condition goes away after the baby is born.
Are All Dental Procedures Safe During Pregnancy?Healthcare practitioners attest to the safety of such procedures as semi-annual exams, cleanings, cavity fillings, extractions, crowns, routine X-rays, and any emergency dental treatments. It is recommended, however, that you postpone most non-emergency, elective procedures, such as teeth whitening and other cosmetic procedures, until after the baby is born.
Anesthesia, Medications, and X-Rays
Some medications are safe during pregnancy while others should be avoided. Talk to your dentist about choosing the right pain relievers and antibiotics should you require those. Numbing medications such as anesthetics like lidocaine shots, for procedures like pulling teeth, fillings, or root canals, have been proven safe during pregnancy.
Similarly, radiation exposure during an X-ray procedure has been proven safe (with appropriate shielding). Your dentist or hygienist will typically cover you with a leaded apron to minimize the exposure.
Oral Hygiene During Pregnancy
It’s understandable that some conditions associated with pregnancy — such as morning sickness, exhaustion, and tender gums — might interfere with your regular oral hygiene schedule, but poor oral hygiene during pregnancy can affect the health of both you and your baby. That’s why it’s important to brush and floss regularly.
Dental issues have been proven to sometimes lead to premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes, and pre-eclampsia. Eating a balanced diet, brushing twice a day for two minutes using an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste, and flossing at least once a day is recommended. Talk to your dentist if you experience any bleeding or tenderness.
Please put visiting the dentist on your pregnancy to-do list. Your Harker Heights family dentist will perform a thorough examination to determine the state of your dental health and to help detect any issues. We will also do our best to make your visit as comfortable as possible. Contact us at (254) 863-8003 with any questions you might have or to schedule an appointment.