Pregnancy and The Dentist

Author: Dr. Sarah Mischo, DMD

I’m pregnant-should I still go to the dentist? I’m currently 37 weeks along in my first pregnancy, and can confidently say that being pregnant can be one of the most exciting, and busiest time in a woman’s life. The anticipation and preparation that goes into awaiting your little one’s arrival can be both rewarding and exhausting. One of the many activities that women who are expecting should continue to complete during pregnancy is visiting their dentist!

If the mother-to-be was seeing their dentist twice, three, or four times a year prior to becoming pregnant for routine cleanings she should maintain that same routine. Overall, her dental visits will probably look very similar to before she was pregnant, but there are a few additional considerations dentists weigh when treating a pregnant patient.

Preventative Treatment: Pregnancy makes women more susceptible to periodontal disease due to the increased levels of progesterone. Progesterone causes dilation of the gingival blood vessels which can lead to increased bleeding and irritation. It’s important that pregnant women maintain good oral hygiene at home with brushing and flossing twice a day for ~ 2 minutes and continue seeing their dentist for routine cleanings in order to remove plaque, which is one of the biggest risk factors for periodontal disease.

Restorative Treatment: The safest time to complete routine dental work for a pregnant patient is during the second trimester. The goal of completing routine dental work is to remove any active disease and eliminate the potential for any problems that could arise or cause issues at a later date during the pregnancy or during the first weeks of postpartum.

Radiographs: Dental radiographs are safe to take during pregnancy, if needed for treatment. However, routine x-rays are usually postponed until after delivery if the mother is experiencing no discomfort or pain. If x-rays are needed to make a diagnosis or plan treatment for a specific complaint, a lead apron and thyroid collar (apron of the apron that extends up around the neck) will be worn by the patient and the apron will extend down and around the abdomen to minimize any exposure to the developing infant.

What to do if you have morning sickness: If you happen to experience morning sickness, avoid brushing your teeth right after an episode. Brushing your teeth immediately after they are exposed to the acid in vomit can actually cause damage to your enamel. Instead, mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water and swish and spit after vomiting. This will help neutralize the acidic environment without causing more damage to the tooth enamel. Wait about thirty minutes to brush normally.

If you are pregnant, please let your dentist know so they can provide the best treatment for you (and your baby)-and congratulations on your little bundle of joy!