You’ve probably heard hundreds of different old wives tales about pregnancy from how to tell the gender of the baby to what food to eat or avoid. Have you heard the one about staying completely away from the dentist during your pregnancy? Or that is normal to lose teeth during pregnancy? We sure hope you haven’t! Although, if you have we want to explain why you should go to the dentist regularly during your pregnancy.
During pregnancy elevated hormones can cause pregnancy gingivitis. This is the inflammation of the gums. Swelling, tenderness, and/or bleeding of the gums when they are brushed or flossed are signs of gingivitis. Regular cleanings and exams are not only safe, but highly recommended! You’ll want to avoid the risk of oral infections, like gum disease during your pregnancy. If pregnancy gingivitis is left untreated it can lead to more serious forms of gum disease. Gum disease has been linked to preterm birth, so make sure to keep your 6 month cleaning and exam appointment.
Pregnant women are more prone to tooth decay and cavities due to the increased intake of carbs in their diet and the acid from morning sickness. Some women experience morning sickness from their toothpaste. This shouldn’t stop you from brushing your teeth; there are bland tasting toothpastes available. If you need help finding the right one for you, ask your dentist. If you aren’t able to brush your teeth after an unexpected bout of morning sickness be sure to rinse your mouth with water thoroughly to remove the acid from your teeth.
It is completely safe for cavities to be filled during pregnancy. It is best to have to them filled to stop any further decay or infection. Crowns are also safe to have done. However it is probably best to have these procedures done during the first or second trimester as laying down for a long period of time during the third trimester can be very uncomfortable.
If you need numbing medication during a filling or procedure it is proven to be safe for mother and the unborn child according to the American Dental Association.
A study in the August 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association followed a group of pregnant women who had procedures that used anesthetics like lidocaine shots and a group that did not. The study showed these treatments were safe during pregnancy, as they cause no difference in the rate of miscarriages, birth defects, prematurity or weight of the baby. “Our study identified no evidence to show that dental treatment with anesthetics is harmful during pregnancy,” said study author Dr. Hagai. “We aimed to determine if there was a significant risk associated with dental treatment with anesthesia and pregnancy outcomes. We did not find any such risk.”
You may even start to notice small overgrowths of tissues that appear on the gum, usually during the second semester. These overgrowths are referred to as pregnancy tumors, but don’t worry they aren’t cancerous. They are usually red in color and look rather ‘raw’ they may even bleed easily when irritated. If you are experiencing these pregnancy tumors make sure to let your dentist know, although they usually go away by themselves after birth.
It is best to avoid getting X-rays during pregnancy however if it is absolutely necessary to do so to find the root of an issue make sure the proper shielding is in place. According to the American College of Radiology no single diagnostic X-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus.
So remember to keep up with your regular six month cleaning and exam. Make sure to tell your dentist that you are pregnant and let them know if you have noticed any changes in your oral health since becoming pregnant.