Being pregnant can be a very exciting, but also stressful time, for many reasons. Physical and hormonal changes, often accompanied by nausea and fatigue, are only some of aforementioned reasons that can make pregnancy a sometimes trying time. Many patients ask if it is safe to visit the dentist while pregnant. The answer is a resounding yes, not only is it safe but it is recommended.
During pregnancy, several problems of the mouth can be more common. These include:
Can result from hormonal changes that exaggerate the response of the gums to bacteria. Many women will report that their gums bleed more during pregnancy, even if they are still brushing and flossing as usual. It can be distressing to see bleeding when there wasn’t any before. Maintain your healthy dental habits and your gums will eventually return to normal.
Dryness of the mouth or increased acidity due to vomiting, as well as changes to the diet such as increased snacking, can all lead to increases in the rate of dental cavities. Many people have heard the tale of how a mother had great teeth until she got pregnant and that her baby took all her calcium. Although the reason isn’t correct (a developing fetus can’t soften a mother’s teeth by removing calcium), the increase in dental problems can occur for the reasons above.
Swelling in the gums:
Also known as pyogenic granuloma, a round growth on the gums that can develop in response to hormonal changes. Its appearance can be concerning to patients, because it may resemble an abscess or tumour. It is however, benign.
Erosion of teeth:
Again, potentially caused by acidity from vomiting.
Because of this, regular checkups and cleanings are recommended as per the patient’s usual schedule. But what about dental work and emergencies? Many pregnant women are reluctant to proceed with x-rays and anesthetic out of a fear it will harm their developing baby. However the American Dental Associations and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both agree that in appropriate situations they are completely safe. Elective treatments and routine x-rays can be postponed until after delivery. But any emergencies or repair of cavities or broken teeth can and should be treated. No single x-ray, if necessary for diagnosing an emergency problem and taken with correct shielding of the body, can cause harm to the developing baby. And our dental anesthetic, lidocaine, is a Category B drug – safe for use during pregnancy. Ideally, the most appropriate time for dental work would be the second trimester but if you are in pain or have a broken tooth, do not delay! The risk of infection and stress of a painful or abscessed tooth is far worse for both mother and baby.
To help make the experience more comfortable, be sure to tell us that you are expecting. Let us know if lying too far back in the dental chair is a problem, or if you require an extra pillow or more frequent breaks. Making our patients comfortable in any situation is always on the top of our minds. Below are a few more links with more information. Have a great pregnancy!