Pregnancy is a wonderful time for any expectant mother, but it can also pose a problem when dealing with oral health issues. The hormonal changes going on in your body do not just change your moods and inspire cravings, but also affect your teeth as well. It is not uncommon for pregnant women to see changes in their normal oral health status when pregnant, and dental health is a common cause for worry for expectant mothers.
The American Pregnancy Association notes that dental cleaning and dental exams are “not only safe, but are recommended” during pregnancy. If you would like to know more about what kind of dental work can take place during pregnancy, here are some of the most frequently asked questions from pregnant women.
What kind of dental issues can occur during pregnancy?
While it is an old wives’ tale that teeth fall out during pregnancy, you will see some changes in your teeth and gums while pregnant. 40% of pregnant women suffer from pregnancy gingivitis, or pregnancy-induced gum disease. Your gums may become red and sore, and your gums may bleed more than normal. The usual course of treatment is simply taking greater care of your teeth when pregnant: brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, flossing, and using a mouthwash recommended by your dentist.
Pregnant women are also susceptible to pyogenic granulomas, also known as pregnancy tumors. These growths are usually harmless, and often appear in the mouth or on the gums. They usually disappear after birth, but you should alert your dentist if they appear nevertheless.
What kind of dental work can be done during pregnancy?
Unfortunately, accidents do happen and dental problems can strike at inconvenient times. Whilst dentists tend to recommend that minor issues be dealt with after the birth, some issues must be dealt with if infection is possible or if the issue is causing the mother a considerable amount of pain. As such, pregnant women sometimes undergo a variety of procedures—from fillings to root canals—when deemed medically necessary.
There are certain treatments that will be avoided during pregnancy as an extra precaution. For example, some dentists will not place or remove amalgam fillings in pregnant or nursing women. Cosmetic work should also be postponed until after birth.
Will vomiting from morning sickness harm my teeth?
Pregnant women do have a tendency to vomit more than usual due to morning sickness. Unfortunately, vomit often contains acids that are very bad for the teeth, and this can lead to tooth enamel damage. The American Dental Association therefore recommends that you rinse your mouth with a solution of a teaspoon of baking soda in water to prevent acid damage to your teeth after vomiting.
Can my teeth be X-rayed?
Dentists recommend that x-rays be avoided where possible during pregnancy, especially in the first three months. Although your abdomen will be shielded in any dental x-ray, dentists still choose to err on the side of caution. This means that if your annual check-up falls during your pregnancy, they will likely skip over routine dental x-rays. However, if you suffer a dental emergency, an x-ray may be necessary. If this is the case, you will be covered with a leaded apron so as to protect your body and baby from any unnecessary radiation. It should be underlined that x-rays nowadays are much safer than they used to be, and the amount of radiation you will be exposed to is extremely low. However, a dentist will always take the upmost precautions with pregnant women in order to give you peace of mind.
Can I undergo local or general anesthetic?
The benefits and risks of anesthetic use in pregnant women are hotly debated: some think it should be avoided due to potential side-effects, whilst others think it should be used to reduce the stress of the mother and therefore reduce stress on the baby. The consensus usually falls somewhere in between these two points: both general and local anesthetic should be avoided during the first trimester, but local anesthetic can usually be used in small doses thereafter as the benefits outweigh the risks. Another point of consensus is avoidance of nitrous oxide: laughing gas should not be used on pregnant women during any stage of pregnancy.
Is there any ideal time during pregnancy to deal with dental health issues?
In reality, there is no ideal time to deal with any dental health issue: if you experience a dental emergency, it should be treated. However, the second trimester is usually touted as a good time to see your dentist because it falls at a happy medium. Some dentists do not recommend dental treatment during the first trimester, and women may find it difficult to lie down in a dentist’s chair comfortably by the time they reach their third trimester.
Are you pregnant and worried about your oral health? Family Dental Care of Bellevue has been treating pregnant dental patients for over a decade. Get in touch today to schedule an appointment.