When you’re expecting a baby, you’ve naturally got a lot of things on your mind. You undoubtedly have a long list of things to do before the baby arrives, too! Regular dental checkups during pregnancy are both safe and important to your overall health. Pregnancy does not interfere with regular cleanings and dental exams. We can also perform cavity fillings and other routine dental procedures.
Medical and dental professionals encourage pregnant patients to see a dentist regularly during pregnancy. Regular dental care ensures that you maintain good oral health during pregnancy and can help address pregnancy-related dental changes.
The American Dental Association recommends that you see a dentist for routine care every six months. If you know (or think) you’re pregnant, tell your dentist prior to visiting. Let the office know how many weeks you’ve been pregnant, and if you are taking any medications. If your pregnancy is high-risk, your dentist may want to delay certain appointments, or confer with your obstetrician regarding care.
Changes to your mouth during pregnancy
Pregnancy changes your body in a lot of ways, including your mouth! Pregnancy is a unique experience for every mom-to-be, so some of these conditions may or may not affect you. Routine dental care can help you manage these conditions if you experience them while you’re pregnant.
Tooth decay. When you are pregnant, your teeth can suffer, due to increased food consumption, morning sickness and other factors. Stomach acids can wreak havoc on tooth enamel. If you have serious or ongoing morning sickness, let us know. We may be able to help you better protect your tooth enamel. Being pregnant can also mean an increase in your carbohydrate intake. If you don’t take excellent care of your teeth, your increased sugar consumption can lead to tooth decay.
Gingivitis. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can bring on “pregnancy gingivitis.” Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, which can leave them swollen, tender and bleeding. Gingivitis can lead to more serious gum disease. If you develop gingivitis during pregnancy, we may want to see you more often to monitor your teeth.
Other dental complications during pregnancy
Changes in oral hygiene habits. Pregnancy can change even the best oral hygiene habits. You may find it difficult to brush and floss regularly. Your gag reflex may be in overdrive, making it harder to brush your teeth. Your gums may bleed or feel tender, even when you’ve been taking good care of them. Schedule changes can also make it difficult to keep up your daily habits. Brush your teeth twice daily and floss regularly. Sometimes, using a different toothpaste or toothbrush can help manage your gag reflex while you’re pregnant.
There’s another incentive to keep up your brushing and flossing routine when you’re expecting. Bacteria in your mouth can make its way through your bloodstream to your unborn baby. It can also take up residence in your amniotic fluid, which can cause serious complications. These complications include low birth weights, premature delivery, premature labor contractions and infections. The good news is that good oral hygiene during pregnancy can control the risks to your unborn baby.
Pregnancy tumors. Despite the name, this complication of pregnancy isn’t really a tumor at all! These lumps are simply swollen gum tissues that occur most often between your teeth. These red, raw “raspberries” can hurt, and they bleed easily. Although we don’t know their definite cause, they’re likely the result of excessive plaque accumulations between your teeth. Fortunately, these “tumors” tend to recede when you give birth. Proper brushing and flossing during pregnancy may help eliminate excessive plaque build-up between your teeth.
Routine Dental Care
At Viewpoint Dentistry, we offer “low-impact” routine dental care. This includes ultrasonic cleaning, which eliminates the dreaded scraping during plaque removal. Our ultrasonic scaler uses high frequency sound and fluid to blast away the plaque, tartar and bacteria on your teeth. It’s perfectly safe for you, your baby and your teeth! In addition, ultrasonic cleaning is faster and more comfortable than traditional manual scaling.
Routine dental care is important for maintaining your overall health and protecting the health of your baby. Most women don’t experience complications during pregnancy, and benefit from routine dental care. Our experienced staff works with pregnant patients regularly, so we can deliver the best dental care to expecting mothers.
Medications During Pregnancy
If you’re taking regular medications while pregnant, tell your dentist about them. This includes over-the-counter drugs and supplements. Sometimes dentists write prescriptions, so it’s important to know about your other medications. As healthcare professionals, we’ll consult with your obstetrician about medications we may prescribe to support your oral health.
Aside from prescriptions, dentists may use local anesthetics during procedures. During your pregnancy, you may need to have a cavity filled, a tooth extraction or a root canal. We can do all these common procedures safely and painlessly during pregnancy. At Viewpoint Dentistry, we offer several same-day procedures and can perform many of them with dental lasers that eliminate the need for anesthesia!
When a procedure requires anesthesia, you should know that local anesthetics are completely safe for both you and your baby. Studies of pregnant women who received routine dental procedures with and without anesthesia showed no differences in the babies’ outcomes. Pregnant women experienced no differences in the rates of miscarriages, birth defects, and other complications from using dental anesthesia.
We have a variety of local anesthetics that we can use on patients. Some anesthetics are short acting, and tend to have a limited effect on both you and your baby. The Food and Drug Administration has classified lidocaine, used frequently as a dental anesthetic, as posing no significant fetal risk. As a safety measure, delaying procedures requiring anesthesia until the second trimester can lower risk even farther. We also have technology that can provide diagnosis without ionization radiation, which is perfect for women during a pregnancy.
In addition, we can prescribe a number of antibiotics for use after procedures that are known to be safe during pregnancy.
Dental X-Rays and Pregnancy
Dentists like to take x-rays of your teeth once per year. They may also make a panoramic x-ray to evaluate the overall health and condition of your teeth. When you’re pregnant, you may wonder whether it’s safe to make a dental x-ray. The short answer is, “Yes!”
Making a dental x-ray exposes you to a small amount of radiation. When your dentist or hygienist makes an x-ray, they’ll cover you with a lead apron that shields your body from radiation. In addition, they’ll cover your throat, which will give added protection to your thyroid gland. If this sounds familiar, it’s because they provide the same protection for non-pregnant patients, too!
In the last decade, the amount of radiation needed to make a dental x-ray has dropped significantly. The American College of Radiology states that diagnostic x-rays do not contain enough radiation to harm a developing fetus. According to the American Dental Association, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, dental x-rays are safe. At Viewpoint Dentistry, we have state-of-the-art equipment and technology that helps us provide excellent care.
Timing Dental Procedures During Pregnancy
Sometimes, the timing of a dental procedure can make a big difference for you, the pregnant patient. The second trimester provides a great opportunity to perform dental work when you’re pregnant. We normally perform dental procedures with the patient in a reclining (supine) position. Unfortunately, being on your back in the third trimester neither recommended nor comfortable! In the second trimester, the baby’s major systems have already developed, so the risk to your baby is very low. Because your baby is still very small, we can perform procedures more comfortably than in the third trimester.
If you’d like to know more about dental care during pregnancy, or you have questions regarding dental procedures, x-rays or other treatments, please give us a call at Viewpoint Dentistry at (509) 946-9313. You can also request an appointment here.