SHOULD I GO TO THE DENTIST WHILE PREGNANT? ARE THERE NEGATIVE ASSOCIATIONS WITH PREGNANCY & BAD DENTAL HEALTH?

SHOULD I GO TO THE DENTIST WHILE PREGNANT? ARE THERE NEGATIVE ASSOCIATIONS WITH PREGNANCY & BAD DENTAL HEALTH?

April 23, 2019

woman sitting in the dentist chair while pregnantWhen patients are pregnant they always come in to the office with extra questions. This is wonderful. We’re excited to celebrate with you and we love that these precious moments encourage more opportunities to learn and educate around important aspects of dental health. During a time when the body is going through unfamiliar changes, questions arise and comprehensive patient-practitioner communication is both comforting and essential.

For this reason I have written a brief synopsis of the most common questions we get from our pregnant patients.

First off, the big one –

SHOULD I GO TO THE DENTIST WHILE I’M PREGNANT?

This is one of the most common questions that we receive. Rightly so, as expecting mothers are prioritizing and protecting one thing most – their sensitive and developing baby. There’s good logic in this question: dental offices can be stressful, there are x-rays and perhaps the use of drugs or anesthetics. During this time when an expecting mother wants her body to be as clean as possible for her child, all of the above sounds precarious.

I’ll address each of the above examples more specifically further along in the post, but the most important thing to understand is this:

The risk of having bad oral health is greater than any potential risk associated with going to the dental office.

Oral health is directly related to the heart’s health and to the bodies overall health. Preventative dental cleanings & annual exams during pregnancy are recommended. Gum infections and gum disease have been linked to premature births. Women are encouraged to get dental care while pregnant by the American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dentists will make sure that the teeth and gums are free of gum disease causing bacteria. We’re also available to help discuss any unfamiliar symptoms that are potentially being caused by the pregnancy.

WHAT SIDE EFFECTS OR UNFAMILIAR SYMPTOMS COULD PREGNANCY HAVE ON MY MOUTH?

Not everyone will experience dental side effects during pregnancy. The following are a few common examples that we do see:

Pregnancy gingivitis – There is a rise in hormones during pregnancy that can cause the gums to swell, bleed and even trap food. We call this irritation to the gums “pregnancy gingivitis.” Analogous to regular gingivitis, bleeding upon flossing and brushing may be experienced. It can also lead to more serious forms of gum disease and is important to get regular, or in some cases even more frequent, cleanings to prevent this.

Pregnancy tumors – Women can experience overgrowths of tissue on their gums. Don’t fret! These are not some random contraction of cancer that Google research may suggest. These benign bumps are swollen gum tissues that are commonly found in-between the teeth. Normally they will go away once the baby is born.

More likely to get cavities – It’s true. Pregnant women have a higher risk of getting cavities. This could be caused by morning sickness creating a more acidic environment in the mouth. Pregnancy cravings might be leading to higher consumption of cavity causing carbohydrates. Or, for example, the changes and developed discomforts in a mothers routine and body – gag reflexes, exhaustion or sensitive gums – can have an influence on regular brushing and flossing getting put off.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO THE DENTIST WHILE PREGNANT?

Be sure to stay up-to-date with your regular schedule of going to the dentist for routine checkups and cleanings. If emergency dental work is needed it is important to not procrastinate these as well. Procedures like getting cavities filled, root canals, fixing crowns or getting extractions might be necessary to reduce the chances of infection.

Try to postpone unnecessary dental work until after the birth. Getting dental implants, gum grafts, teeth whitening, surgeries or other cosmetic treatments are best to hold-off until after childbirth.

Getting dental work done during the second trimester is an ideal time. Though the first trimester is the most vulnerable time of a baby’s development, there are no studies or evidence to suggest that visiting the dentist during this time poses harm to the baby.

Avoid dental visits during the third trimester. The extended time lying back in a dental chair might not only be uncomfortable but could also risk inducing premature labor.

WILL MEDICATIONS USED OR PRESCRIBED BY THE DENTIST BE HARMFUL TO MY PREGNANCY?

Most of the drugs or medications used in the dental office fall under the classification of “category B.” These are well tested and proven to be safe for use during pregnancy. The following are common category B medications found in the dental office:

  • Lidocaine – used to anesthetize, numb or “freeze” certain areas of the mouth
  • Penicillan
  • Amoxicillin
  • Clindamycin

When dental work is needed we consider it good practice to use as little anesthesia as possible. Simultaneously, it’s important to use enough to make you comfortable and reduce the amount of stress put on you and your baby.

Of course it is important to notify the dentist that you are pregnant. In doing so they will act accordingly and be sure to not prescribe or use any medication that have possible contraindications. Let your dentist know if there are any prescriptions or over the counter medications that you are already taking.

ARE DENTAL X-RAYS DANGEROUS WHEN I’M PREGNANT?

According to the American College of Radiology there are no diagnostic x-rays that have a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus. Additionally, x-rays at Bell Harbour Dental are always taken with our modern state-of-the-art-technology and with the appropriate shielding. When performed accordingly the American Dental Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists consider dental x-rays safe during pregnancy.

With this said, our patients’ preference is our priority and routine x-rays can most often be postponed until after the pregnancy. Emergency situations and certain dental work does require x-rays, although we are sure to hold conversations with our patients and acquire consent before doing so.

IN CONCLUSION –

It is important to stay on top of dental health during pregnancy. Dental offices are safe spaces and healthy teeth and gums are essential for pregnant mothers and their babies. Letting dental hygiene fall by the wayside will actually do the opposite and poses many risks to the expectant mother and child.

At Bell Harbour Dental it is our prerogative to maintain not only the safest, but also most comfortable environment that a dental clinic can offer. When you arrive we will offer you a glass of water. We have blankets and pillows available for you. Our hygienist even has her own stereo system that enables you to plug in and put on the music of your choice. It may sound like a paradox, but ensuring a relaxed experience at the dental office is the safest way to approach dentistry while pregnant.

Bell Harbour Dental is a family owned, patient-first dental practice in the heart of Downtown, Seattle. Check us on out Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or contact us today to assist you in taking initiative towards vibrant dental health!

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