What To Expect At The Dentist… When You’re Expecting
Congratulations on your growing family! You were probably told to look for symptoms such as morning sickness and food cravings, but did you know that pregnancy will also affect your dental care? When it comes to your dental care, there’s no need to worry!
Good oral health during pregnancy is important to the overall health of an expectant mother and her baby. During pregnancy, the hormonal, dietary changes and morning sickness can make a pregnant woman more susceptible to dental maladies. A comprehensive oral exam and necessary dental treatment should be a part of prenatal care for all women.
Preventive dental care such as routine exams and cleanings, and treatment for cavities, gum disease and if necessary root canals and extractions are recommended and are safe for you and your baby. Most dental procedures performed with local anesthesia (typically lidocaine) are unlikely to put pregnancy at risk, so there’s no need to avoid dental care during your pregnancy. Lidocaine, a category B drug, is the most commonly used local anesthetic for dental procedures and is considered safe by the FDA for the developing fetus. Radiographs are generally avoided unless absolutely necessary during pregnancy. However, digital radiographs taken with proper technique and lead aprons are considered safe.
Morning sickness and increased levels of progesterone can result in some dental problems for pregnant women. Here’s what you should be on the lookout for:
- Pregnancy gingivitis—an inflammation of the gums—occurs because of changing hormone levels. Some women may experience bleeding when brushing or flossing and red, swollen gums.
- Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is caused by bacterial infection that develops below the gum line. This disease damages the fibers that hold your teeth in place and can also affect the health of your baby. Studies have shown that expectant mothers with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of premature delivery and lower birth weights.
- Dry mouth comes from a decrease in saliva caused by hormonal changes. Chewing sugarless gum can help increase saliva production.
- Erosion of tooth enamel is always a risk associated with vomiting. As morning sickness and frequent vomiting are common during pregnancy, enamel erosion on the back of the front teeth is more likely to occur.
How To Care For Your Teeth When Expecting
So, how do you avoid the dental problems that can arise during pregnancy? Easy: be consistent in your normal oral care routine!
- Eat healthy. Nutrition is important for your teeth, as well as the teeth of your developing baby. A nutrient-rich diet is the best thing you can do for your oral and overall health.
- Brush regularly. As usual, brush at least two times a day for two minutes, and if possible, brush with toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Floss. Need we remind you? Flossing at least once a day helps prevent pregnancy gingivitis.
- Use mouthwash. Antimicrobial mouthwash fights the bacteria that contribute to gingivitis and periodontal disease.
- Tell your dentist you’re pregnant. If X-rays, medication, or anesthetics are being considered, your dentist can weigh the risks and do what’s best for you and your baby, especially if cases where you have a pregnancy at risk
- Visit your dentist. Preventive dental care while pregnant is essential to avoid oral infections. When you find out you’re pregnant, make an appointment and speak to your dentist about how you can avoid pregnancy-related dental problems.
Expectant Mothers Can Trust Our Practice
Visits to your dentist during your pregnancy are just as important as visits to your healthcare provider so we encourage you to schedule your next preventative dental visit at Spring Lake Dental Group where we will take exceptional care of the dental and overall health of both you and your child. Don’t let visiting the dentist fall off of your pregnancy to-do list!
Thank you for being our valued patient and friend!