November 08, 2015
Expectant moms often have a lot of questions about dental treatment done during pregnancy. They worry about potentially harming their baby, and as a result skin routine appointments with their dentist. What they might not realize is avoiding dental treatment during pregnancy can be even more dangerous. It is extremely important to take care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy, and the best way to do that is with the help of your dentist.
Pregnancy and Oral Health
It is a myth that during pregnancy the mother’s teeth lose calcium. The calcium the child needs comes primarily from the mother’s diet. However, there are other oral health concerns expectant mothers should be aware of. In fact, about 50% of pregnant women develop a condition called pregnancy gingivitis at some point during pregnancy. Why? The primary cause is hormonal changes. The increase in progesterone and estrogen causes your gum tissue to exaggerate normal reactions to plaque, resulting in early stages of gum disease. Also during pregnancy blood flow increases by 30% to 50%. This means bacteria colonizing along the gumline gets even more nutrition and can also irritate the soft tissues. Some pregnant women are also at risk of non-cancerous growths that develop on their gums. Usually these inflammatory, pregnancy tumors shrink and disappear on their own after the baby’s birth. However, if the growth is uncomfortable and interferes with brushing, chewing, or speaking, then the dentist might decide to remove it.
How Oral Health Affects Your Baby?
The reason oral health during pregnancy is such a big concern is that recent studies show a link between gum disease and premature delivery and low birth weight. With gum disease, the infectious bacteria can easily enter the bloodstream. In reaction to the infection the body produces chemical called prostaglandins, which also signal for the body to start labor. In some cases these premature uterine contractions send expectant mothers into early labor.
What Procedures Should I Avoid?
Most expectant mothers postpone most elective dental procedures until after their baby’s birth. Though the dentist can perform non-emergency treatments, most try to avoid any major dental surgeries during your pregnancy. This is especially true during the first trimester, when the child’s development is most at risk.
What Dental Treatments are Safe During Pregnancy?
You can receive most necessary dental treatments at any time during pregnancy, but most dentists prefer to perform them during the second trimester. By this time the fetal organs are fully developed and there is a lower risk of side effects. By the third trimester it is not that the fetus is in danger, but just that most mothers are uncomfortable lying flat on their backs for extended periods of time. Here are some safe dental treatments you can and should get while pregnant:
Preventative Dental Work During Pregnancy
Do not postpone your routine appointments because of pregnancy. In fact, in anticipation of becoming pregnant you should visit the dentist early and have any problems taken care of right way. A healthy mouth leads to better overall health, and that is exactly what you need before getting pregnant. Some treatments to consider might include:
If you are already pregnant, let your dentist know right away and schedule a checkup during your first trimester. The dentist will be able to take necessary precautions during your appointments and provide the safest course of action. During this early appointment they can assess your oral health and plot out a dental plan for the rest of the pregnancy. Depending on the assessment, the dentist might schedule another cleaning for the second, or early in the third trimester. During pregnancy most professionals agree you should avoid x-rays unless absolutely necessary.
Restorative Dental Work During Pregnancy
As for other regular dental appointments, many dentist will recommend minor fillings or crowns be done during the second trimester to reduce the risk of infection. Otherwise, most dentist recommend you postpone any unnecessary dental work until after birth. If emergency dental work is required the dentist can perform root canal therapy or extraction during any trimester to relieve intense pain or infection. You should always consult with your obstetrician during procedures that require anesthesia or any other prescribed medications. Restorations you can get during pregnancy include:
Of course, every situation is unique. If you worry about the health of your baby, please consult with your physician as well as your dentist to determine the right course of action for your needs.