In between trips to the doctor, hospital tours and setting up the nursery, don’t let visiting the dentist fall off your pregnancy to-do list before baby comes! Getting a checkup during pregnancy is safe and important for your dental health. Not only can you take care of cleanings and procedures like cavity fillings before your baby is born, but your dentist can help you with any pregnancy-related dental symptoms you might be experiencing. We take a look at common questions about dental work during pregnancy.
When should you tell your dentist you’re pregnant?
If there’s any possibility you’re pregnant, let your dental office know. If the pregnancy has been confirmed, tell them how far along you are when you make your appointment. It is also important to make your dentist aware if you’re taking any medications, or if you’ve received any special advice from your physician. If your pregnancy is high-risk or you have certain medical conditions, your dentist and your physician may recommend that some treatments be postponed.
How will pregnancy affect your mouth?
Although many women make it through their entire pregnancy with no dental discomfort, pregnancy can make some conditions worse or even create new ones. Regular checkups and good dental health habits can help keep you and your baby healthy.
Your mouth can be affected by the hormonal changes you will experience during pregnancy. For example, some women develop a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” an inflammation of the gums that can cause swelling and tenderness. Your gums also be more likely to bleed when you brush or floss. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious forms of gum disease. Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings to prevent this.
Increased Risk of Tooth Decay
Pregnant women may be more prone to cavities for a number of reasons. If you’re eating more carbohydrates than usual, this can cause decay. Morning sickness can increase the amount of acid your mouth is exposed to, which can eat away at the enamel of your tooth.
Brushing twice a dayand flossing once can also fall by the wayside during pregnancy for many reasons, including morning sickness, a more sensitive gag reflex, tender gums and exhaustion. It’s especially important to keep up your routine, as poor dental hygiene during pregnancy been associated with premature delivery, fetal growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
In some women, overgrowths of tissue called “pregnancy tumors” appear on the gums, most often during the second trimester. It is not cancer but rather just swelling that happens most often between teeth. They may be related to excess plaque. They bleed easily and have a red, raw-looking raspberry-like appearance. They usually disappear after your baby is born, but if you are concerned, talk to your dentist about removing them.
Is it safe to get local anesthetics?
If you’re pregnant and need a filling, root canal or tooth pulled, one thing you don’t have to worry about is the safety of the numbing medications your dentist may use during the procedure. They are, in fact, safe for both you and your baby. They cause no difference in the rate of miscarriages, birth defects, prematurity or weight of the baby. It may be more uncomfortable to sit in a dental chair for these procedures as your pregnancy progresses, so schedule dental work in your second trimester, if possible. Cosmetic procedures, like whitening, should wait until after baby arrives. If you need an emergency procedure, work with your dentist on the best plan for the health of you and your baby.
Is it safe to get dental X-rays?
Yes, it’s safe to get an X-ray during pregnancy. Although radiation from dental X-rays is extremely low, your dentist or hygienist will cover you with a leaded apron that minimizes exposure to the abdomen. Your dental office will also cover your throat with a leaded collar to protect your thyroid from radiation.
What damage can morning sickness do?
As many pregnant women know all too well, morning sickness can hit any time of the day. Vomit contains stomach acids that can eat away at your teeth, so waiting to brush after you’ve rinsed your mouth can help prevent those acids from doing damage. Instead of brushing, first swish and spit. You can use water or a diluted mouth rinse. Spit it out, and brush your teeth about 30 minutes later.
During a time when anything (and possibly everything) may make you gag, take it slow and figure out what works for you. Changing your flavor of toothpaste, using a brush with a smaller head, or brushing at different times of the day may help. If you need to swish and spit before coming back to brush your teeth, try that as well. The important thing is to keep up your routine, because you’re slightly greater risk for cavities during pregnancy.
Do you have questions about your pregnancy and dental work? Call Hartnett Dental to schedule an appointment with your dentist today! (716) 649-6633.