Dental Care While Pregnant
By: General Dentist Emily Skibinski
When you’re pregnant, you do everything you can to help prepare for a healthy baby. Maintaining good oral health while you’re pregnant is an important part of your overall health. Many expecting women ask questions like “Can I go to the dentist when pregnant?” and “Are my teeth affected during pregnancy?” These are great questions, and I’ll address them in this blog post about what to expect with dental care while pregnant!
Dental Care & Pregnancy
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, dental health is an important part of overall health during pregnancy and throughout your lifespan. Be assured that the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral conditions—including X-rays—are safe during pregnancy. Should you need a dental procedure completed while you’re pregnant, local anesthesia (lidocaine with and without epinephrine) is also safe while you’re pregnant. However, to ensure your overall safety (and your baby’s) we may recommend a letter of clearance from your medical doctor (MD) or primary care provider (PCP).
Overall, going to the dentist while pregnant is safe and absolutely essential to improve your overall wellness during pregnancy. Now let’s go over some of the specifics of oral health during pregnancy.
Timing of Dental Care While Pregnant
We recommend that you receive care regardless of the stage of pregnancy. However, our dentists take into consideration the length of a procedure especially if you’re in your 8th or 9th month of pregnancy, as we want you to be as comfortable as possible during your dental care. The second trimester is typically the best time for a dental procedure, but we will take a look at your care overall and discuss possibilities with you beforehand. If not causing you pain or affecting your baby, certain dental treatments can be delayed until after your baby is born, such as implant placement, cosmetic dentistry, and wisdom teeth removal.
X-Rays & Pregnancy
According to the American Dental Association (ADA) current guidelines say that it is more risky for a pregnant woman to postpone dental treatment than to have treatment completed, and the best way for a dentist to make an accurate, timely diagnosis is to take X-rays of your mouth. We take necessary precautions to protect you and your baby during X-rays, and our dentists will use a lead apron/thyroid collar for maximum safety. It’s important to note that untreated dental disease can transfer bacteria to your child, so diagnosing and treating any dental issues is crucial during your pregnancy.
In general, routine dental X-rays expose people to less radiation than other common activities such as flying on an airplane. Since our clinics use digital X-rays, you can rest assured you’ll be exposed to a very small amount of radiation. Learn more about dental X-rays, including how minimal radiation exposure is from modern dental X-rays.
How Pregnancy May Affect Your Teeth & Gums
During pregnancy you may notice some changes to your oral health, including one or more of the following conditions:
Nearly 50 percent of women will experience pregnancy gingivitis—a condition in which plaque build-up creates an inflammatory response and causes the gums to swell. This is why we stress that regular oral hygiene habits are so important. Your Dental Associates dentist may also recommend an additional hygiene cleaning appointment during your pregnancy to safeguard the health of your gums.
Erosion of the tooth enamel may occur if you experience morning sickness, gastric reflux, or hyperemesis gravidarum. It’s important to rinse your mouth out with water after vomiting to try to remove as much acid as possible. Brushing immediately can ground the acid into your enamel, so we recommend rinsing first, then brushing after about 5 minutes. Another way to neutralize the acid is rinsing your mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a cup of water.
Tumors may appear on your gums in between your teeth during the second trimester. Poor oral health can increase your risk of pregnancy tumors, and if they bleed easily, we may recommend they be removed.
During pregnancy, you may notice your teeth become looser than normal. After your baby is born, your teeth will usually tighten up and you won’t experience any tooth loss unless there was an underlying condition prior to pregnancy.
You may have a higher chance for cavities during pregnancy due to increase acidity, food cravings, and changing hormones. Good oral hygiene will minimize this risk.
Important Things to Tell Your Dentist When You’re Pregnant
Even though your dentist is not your PCP, it’s important to tell them as much information as possible so they know how best to treat you. Here are some things to disclose to your dentist if you’re pregnant:
- How far along you are in your pregnancy
- If you have a high risk pregnancy
- If you have noticed any loosening of your teeth, sore gums, redness, or bleeding in your mouth
- Any medications you’re taking
Steps to Keep Your Mouth Healthy during Pregnancy
Here are some simple ways you can help minimize your risk or oral health issues when you’re pregnant:
- Maintain routine care with your dentist including exams and cleanings
- Uphold good oral hygiene with brushing two times a day and flossing at least once a day
- Eat a well-balanced diet and minimize the consumption of sugary snacks
Dental Health after the Baby is Born
Congratulations! After your baby is born, it’s still important to maintain good oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits with your dentist to minimize any disease-causing bacteria. You should schedule your baby’s first dental visit no later than the age of one or within six months of seeing their first tooth erupt. We pride ourselves on being a dental home for your child, meaning we will get to know them as an individual from their very first visit and will be able to treat your child as they grow older—whether it’s pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, wisdom teeth removal, or any other dental procedures. Dental Associates dentists and our teams will be there for you and your child every step of the way!
Remember that dental care during pregnancy is an important part of your prenatal care. Ensuring your baby is born healthy and that you remain healthy during pregnancy includes monitoring your oral health and hygiene habits. Our caring dental teams will answer any questions and help guide your oral and overall health during your pregnancy to ensure the safe arrival of your child!