Coast Dental Blog
Top 10 Things Pregnant Women Should Know About Visiting the Dentist
There are many things to worry about while you're pregnant, but your dental visit should not be one of them! Annual dental exams and routine cleanings not only safe during pregnancy, they're recommended.
If you're expecting a baby, here is what you need to know about your trip to the dentist:
Tell your dentist you're pregnant and see if you need a referral letter from your OB-GYN. Some dentists like to take a team approach to treating patients who are pregnant and may want to share information about your health with your doctor. Your dentist might also want to know which prenatal vitamins you're taking to ensure you're getting enough calcium, which will help the enamel on your teeth stay strong.
Keep up with your routine cleanings. It's safe to have your teeth cleaned at any point in your pregnancy, although you may want to avoid going in the third trimester just because it can be uncomfortable to lean back, said Dr. Andrew Martin, a dentist at Coast Dental Gainesville.
Skip the x-rays, unless it's an emergency dental visit and your dentist needs the x-rays to properly diagnose the problem and treatment.
Schedule dental procedures for the second trimester, if possible. "Your baby is more developed in the second trimester, and the FDA has a list of local anesthetics, antibiotics and pain medication that are safe to use," said Dr. Martin. Also, talk to your dentist about postponing treatments like filling cavities or placing crowns until after the baby's birth. It can be uncomfortable for a pregnant woman to have to stay in the dental chair long enough to have these kinds of procedures. However, there may be a clinical reason why the procedure cannot be delayed. A cavity, for example, might lead to a root canal if left untreated.
Delay cosmetic treatments, such as veneers or teeth whitening, until after the baby's birth.
Be aware of changes in your gums. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase your risk of periodontal disease. About 50% of pregnant women will develop pregnancy gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums that can cause them to be red, puffy or to bleed. "It’s very important that pregnant women keep up with their regular dental visits so we can manage this condition," said Dr. Martin. Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease; if left untreated, it can lead to bone loss and tooth loss.
Realize periodontal disease has been linked to preterm birth rates. Pregnant women with chronic gum disease were four to seven times more likely to deliver prematurely than mothers with healthy gums, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.
Control your risk factors. The good news is that by brushing your teeth correctly twice a day, flossing once a day, and keeping up with your regular dental visits, you can minimize your risk of periodontal disease. Also, talk to your dentist about the kind of mouthwash you use. Some contain higher levels of fluoride or Peridex, which your doctor might want you to avoid.
Get creative if you have morning sickness. "I had a patient who had terrible morning sickness; even the taste of toothpaste could trigger it," Dr. Martin said. "I recommended she still brush her teeth – but without the toothpaste. The motion would at least help remove some of the plaque, and an electric toothbrush can really help."
Call if there’s an emergency. No matter how far along you are, if you have a dental emergency and are in pain, you need to call your dentist. The pain from a toothache can cause a lot of stress, and that’s bad for both you and your baby.
If you're pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, start improving your oral health today. Taking such simple steps as brushing your teeth correctly, flossing daily and scheduling a professional cleaning can go a long way toward creating a healthy and beautiful smile –which is what you'll want for all those pictures of you holding your new son or daughter!
Andrew Martin, DMD, has been a practicing dentist since 2009. His services include bone grafting, dental implant restorations, extractions, root canal therapy and veneers. Dr. Martin is a member of the American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association and Academy of General Dentistry. He sees patients age 16 and older at Coast Dental Gainesville, 5201 Northwest 34th Street, Suite A, Gainesville, FL 32605. The phone number is (352) 371-7766.
Written by: Beth Gaddis
Reviewed by: Andrew Martin, DMD
Reviewed by: Diaa Ghabbour, DMD
Reviewed by: Chuck Laun, DDS