Expectant mothers often wonder if they should avoid scheduling dental work during pregnancy. Just as it is important to take care of your general health during pregnancy, it is also important to monitor your dental health. Your family dentist can provide more specific recommendations for preventative care and treatment.
How Does Oral Health Affect Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, hormonal changes can increase sensitivity of the gums, causing them to bleed more easily. Bacteria along the gum line can cause inflammation, sometimes referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis”. Morning sickness affects up to 80% of pregnant women. If morning sickness induces vomiting, this can increase acid levels in the mouth and contribute to enamel erosion. When enamel breaks down the teeth are more susceptible to cavities and decay. Occasionally, more serious risks can be associated with poor dental health, including pre-term birth, low birth weight, high blood pressure, and developmental complications.
Preventative Oral Healthcare During Pregnancy
A good dental care routine is important during pregnancy. Below are some tips for maintaining your oral health:
- Brush at least twice per day with a fluoride toothpaste, and don’t forget to floss!
- If you’re having trouble with nausea, try a low foaming fluoride toothpaste.
- If morning sickness occurs, use a fluoride mouthwash or a mixture of water and baking soda to rinse the mouth after vomiting. Wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
- Incorporate extra calcium into your diet. Your baby needs calcium for growing bones, and if there isn’t enough in your diet, your body will take it from your teeth and bones.
- Stick to plain water or unsweetened herbal tea when you are thirsty.
- Limit sugary snacks and sticky candies, and rinse with water after eating.
Dental Appointments During Pregnancy
Regular visits to your family dentist are recommended during pregnancy. When you find out you are pregnant, it is best to schedule a cleaning and check-up during the first trimester. Make sure to let your dentist or hygienist know that you are pregnant so they can identify any immediate concerns. Any pain, inflammation, or infection should be treated. Many times, issues with swelling of the gums and gingivitis are resolved after childbirth, but persistent gum disease can spread to the tissues and bone structure that support the teeth.
Unnecessary work including teeth whitening and other cosmetic dentistry procedures should be postponed until after pregnancy. If restorative treatment is needed, such as fillings, the work should be completed promptly to avoid further infection. The second trimester is the best time for dental work because you will be more comfortable lying down during the appointment.
Are Medications and X-rays Safe During Pregnancy?
If possible, it is best to avoid x-rays during pregnancy. If emergency diagnostic x-rays are needed, they can be safely taken if a lead apron is worn to shield the stomach. If local anaesthetic (freezing) is needed during a procedure, it is recommended to use the lowest dose that will ease discomfort. Local anaesthetic can be safely used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Sometimes additional medications or antibiotics are needed following oral surgery. Not all medications are safe during pregnancy so be sure to check with your dentist, health care provider, or pharmacist before taking anything.
If you have any questions or concerns about your oral health during pregnancy, speak to your family dentist. Regular dental check ups and cleanings are safe and recommending during pregnancy as part of a good oral healthcare routine.