Is seeing the dentist while pregnant a threat to you and your baby’s health? Many mothers-to-be question the safety of continuing normal dental exams and receiving specialized oral care while carrying their child. In truth, oral health is important to maintain, both for the mother and baby, and this guide can help you plan your dental appointments so you receive the appropriate level of attention to your dental health before, during and after pregnancy.
The Effects of Pregnancy on Oral Health
When women become pregnant, their bodies produce an increase in the hormones progesterone and estrogen. Elevated levels of these hormones cause the gums to respond differently to the presence of plaque. Gum tissues become more sensitive and inflame more easily. In total, about 40 percent of pregnant women will develop pregnancy gingivitis.
In order to prevent this, regular dental cleanings are encouraged during pregnancy. Dentists can thoroughly remove the plaque buildup and reduce gum inflammation before more serious problems develop. However, dental care is safer within a specific timeframe.
Timing Your Dental Visit
If you plan on becoming pregnant in the near future, schedule a dental exam prior to conception. At this time, inform the dentist of your plans and request all X-rays taken before the next visit. Dental treatments are discouraged in the first trimester and the latter half of the third trimester. During the first trimester, the fetus makes rapid developmental strides, and it is better to err on the side of caution and not expose the mother to any outside negative effects.
In the late third trimester, the mother is bound to feel extremely uncomfortable in a dentist chair for an extended period, so second trimester dental visits are ideal for expectant mothers, between the 13th and 26th week of pregnancy. In addition, second trimester visits are recommended due to the reduced chance the mother will be suffering from morning sickness.
Which Treatments are Appropriate?
Due to the potential for radiation exposure, dental X-rays should be postponed until after delivery. If X-rays are essential due to a dental emergency, the dentist will ensure the mother and baby are protected as much as possible.
Pregnant dental patients should inform their dentist of all medications they are taking so no treatments interfere or interact with their current regimen. While regular cleanings are perfectly safe, elective dental procedures can be postponed until the pregnancy concludes.
Promoting Dental Health During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, it is even more important for expectant mothers to closely monitor their diet to promote tooth health and the health of their growing baby. Avoid foods with high sugar content, since they may contribute to gingivitis and tooth decay. Instead focus on ingesting meals rich in calcium – a mineral promoting strong bones and teeth in the unborn child.
It’s important to see a dentist while you’re pregnant to receive professional advice and care relating to the health of your teeth, so contact Oak Hills Dental to set up an appointment today.