Should you visit the dentist while pregnant?

montreal dentist pregnan


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!

Pregnancy and Dental Work

Sugar-Free Chewing Gum Can Boost Your Oral Health


dentist downtown montreal chewing gum


Chewing gum isn’t only about freshening your breath. While that certainly is one benefit, especially depending on what you’ve had for lunch, did you know chewing sugarless gum can also prevent cavities and improve your oral health?

Chewing Gum Increases Saliva Flow and Prevents Cavities

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), studies show that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after a meal can prevent tooth decay. The act of chewing increases saliva flow in your mouth. The saliva then washes away food and neutralizes acids, cleaning and protecting your teeth from cavity-causing bacteria.

You’ll want to make sure your gum is sugar-free. While gum that contains sugar also increases saliva flow, the sugar actually feeds the bacteria in your mouth, putting you at greater risk of decay. We definitely don’t want that!

Most sugar free gum is sweetened with Xylitol. Unlike artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, xylitol is a naturally occurring product. And what’s more, xylitol can help decrease the amount of cavity causing bacteria sticking to your teeth.

Chewing Gum Helps Strengthen Tooth Enamel

Saliva contains necessary calcium and phosphate that strengthens tooth enamel. After a meal, reinforcing your enamel can be especially beneficial in fighting off bacteria and decay. Chewing gum can also be extremely beneficial in stimulating saliva flow in people who have dry mouth due to side effect of their medications or other reasons.

Look for Sugarless Gum with the ADA Seal

The ADA seal indicates that the gum has been tested and proven to do at least one or all of these three things: reduce plaque acids and cavities, promote remineralization of tooth enamel, and reduce gingivitis. If you want a sugarless gum you can trust to boost your oral health, look for the ADA seal. Here is a link to their website that shows all the recommended chewing gum brands.

Don’t Stop Brushing and Flossing

Even though chewing sugar-free gum can aid in keeping your mouth healthy, it should never serve as a substitute for regular brushing and flossing. Your best defence against decay and dental disease is to brush teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste as well as floss once daily!

Five Tips for Maintaining your Toothbrush

Taking care of your toothbrush is an important part of maintaining proper oral health. An old tooth brush won’t be able to do its job if its worn out and broken. At Downtown Montreal Dentistry in Montreal, we encourage patients to practice excellent oral hygiene habits at home to help prevent complex dental issues from developing. Dr Seminara and his team of dental hygienists, Laurie, Kim and Tara, believe in educating patients on healthy practices to help improve the health of their smile. Part of practicing proper oral hygiene is keeping your tooth brush in tip top shape. Our Montreal dentist office have listed a few tips and tricks to help keep your tooth brush in pristine conditions.

Maintaining Your Toothbrush

Tip #1: Carefully rinse out your toothbrush after each time you brush your teeth. Food particles and debris can cling to your toothbrush and become a platform for bacteria.

Tip #2: Try to keep your brush away from your toilet. Every time you flush with the lid open, it can cause certain bacteria to become airborne and cling to your toothbrush. If you can not keep your toothbrush away from your toilet, try to keep it covered.

Tip #3: Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months. After a few months of use, the bristles can get worn out and your toothbrush will not be able to properly clean your teeth and tongue. You will notice the time to change when the bristles start to look flattened and frayed.

Tip #4: Do your best to keep the bristles dry after use. Keep your tooth brush in a position where it can properly dry after brushing your teeth. An upright positions is best.

Tip #5: Don’t share your toothbrush with anyone, not even your child. Sharing means that you are also sharing germs, food particles, and debris with another person. Get a new tooth brush for each member of the family, or ask us to give you an extra on your next visit!

Bonus Tip #6: For those using an electric brush, don’t let it sit on the charger when not in use. Instead, let it completely discharge before recharging it entirely overnight. This will help prolong the life of the battery.

Five Common Questions And Answers About Dental Crowns

Five Common Questions And Answers About Dental Crowns


Since crowns are one of the more common restorations that people need on their teeth, we are regularly asked the question, “Do I really need a crown?” It is a completely fair question that we encourage you to ask. We strongly feel that with any dental or medical treatment, you should be fully aware of the reasons for treatment, different options, and consequences of proceeding with treatment or not. In this article I will answer some of the more common questions about dental crowns that I frequently hear from patients. I also encourage you to send me an email at or call the office if you have any other questions that are not answered here.

1. Why do I need a crown?

There are a variety of situations that may require a tooth to be restored with a dental crown. The following are the most common:
a. Large filling: When a tooth has a cavity or a fracture that involves half the width of the tooth or more, it may need to be covered with a crown. This is because the remaining tooth around the large filling is so weak that it is prone to fracture.
b. Root canal: Root canal treatment leaves the tooth hollowed out and predisposes the remaining tooth to cracking. So, a tooth that has had a root canal should be restored with a crown immediately to prevent it from fracturing. This is especially important when it is a back tooth.
c. Broken cusps: Sometimes a cusp (the pointy part) of a tooth will fracture due to trauma. These are the parts of the tooth that take on a lot of the chewing stress, and typically simple fillings are not strong enough to replace them for the long term.
d. Undesirable appearance of teeth: Teeth that have an unacceptable appearance due to colour, shape, or spaces between teeth can be made to look very natural and beautiful with crowns. This is a different reason than the previous three since it is more based on esthetics than function, but it can still be a very valid reason depending on the situation.

Figure 1. The procedure for a dental crown

Figure 1. The procedure for a dental crown

2. What are my options?

In some cases, while a crown is one option, there can be others. You might opt for a filling instead. Keep in mind, however, that a filling does not prevent you from needing a crown later on. Also, if a substantial portion of your tooth needs filling it may not give you the same kind of protection as crowns do. If the filling is extremely large, it can cause the tooth to break, making it irreparable.

3. What if I wait or do nothing?

A few different scenarios can occur if you choose to not proceed with treatment:
a. Nothing may happen, the tooth could remain as is for many years
b. The tooth could chip or crack and may require a repair.
c. In more rare cases, it may break in a way that would require a root canal
d. The tooth may fracture in a way that renders it not repairable and it would have to be extracted.

4. Is a root canal needed?

Most teeth that have root canals should have crowns, but not all teeth that need crowns require root canals. The need for a root canal depends on whether the tooth is infected or inflamed and painful, or if a very significant portion of the tooth is missing.

How long does the crown last?

The research on dental crowns indicate that most will last an average of 10 to 15 years. However, there are factors that influence this figure. A person who has a high risk of cavities (someone who has to have a couple of fillings each year for example), or grinds their teeth, or has poor oral hygiene habits may find that their crown lasts less than the average. On the other hand, we have some patients who have had the same crowns for 30+ years. The point is that the average lifespan is just that, an average. It should be taken as a guideline, but cannot be considered a guarantee. The mouth can be a very hard environment for the teeth, with chewing pressure and repetitive stresses from the muscles of the jaw. Add to that some of the negative factors listed above and you have the reasons why some crowns fail early. But with a well designed crown and some effort to improve oral care, we can maximize the lifespan of any restoration.

Dental X-Rays, Do I Really Need Them?


Doctor, do I really need to take dental x-rays? This is a question frequently posed by our patients and one that requires thoughtful consideration. The reason why people may question or refuse the need for dental x-rays often relates to the issue of safety. No one wants to expose themselves to radiation needlessly, and on this point everyone can agree. However, we cannot overlook the benefits of dental x-rays: They allow us to detect small problems of the teeth and bone of the jaws before they become big problems. So what is the balance? How often can we safely take x-rays and how often should we?


A typical dental x-ray image. Smile!

A typical dental x-ray image. Smile!

Before answering the question, we must understand a bit about x-ray exposure. Radiation is measured in units called millisieverts. This is a metric measurement, so it uses a similar scale to what we use for distance. One millimetre is 1/1000th of a metre. Dental x-rays are measured in microsieverts. So just as a micrometre is 1/1000th of a millimetre, a microsievert is 1/1000th of a millisievert. To put it another way, it is 1000 times less.

The fact is that radiation occurs naturally all around us, to the point where we are naturally exposed to about 4 millisieverts every year. This number increases if we live in a part of the world with longer sun exposure, at higher elevations, if we fly on airplanes, watch television, or smoke cigarettes. A typical digital dental x-ray examination of 4 bitewing x-rays is 0.8 microsieverts. Remember that is 5000 times less than your average natural exposure yearly dose! Dental x-rays are among the lowest sources of diagnostic imaging x-rays used.


dental x-ray dentist montreal downtown

The only films we use are digital, which correspond to the 6th row from the top. As described in the chart, 18 to 20 films is 0.0039 mSv, meaning one film is less than 0.0008 mSv.

Now that doesn’t mean that we need excessive amounts of images. For new patients, Dr. Seminara will review your history, examine your mouth and teeth then decide whether you need radiographs and what type. For most patients, this will mean bitewings and selected periapical images. These can give us valuable diagnostic information about the teeth, bone, roots and other structures of the jaws. Once we know your general dental status, a recall schedule can be fixed with regular x-rays as needed.

A Bitewing X-ray

A Bitewing X-ray

A Periapical X-ray

A Periapical X-ray








The average patient in our office who is at low risk (someone who get cavities infrequently) would be recommended to have bitewing x-rays done once every 18 to 24 months. A patient at higher risk would be recommended to have them done every 6 to 12 months. More are taken for patients with advanced needs, such as gum disease or root canals. Emergency visits may also require images to help diagnose the cause of the acute problem. We take care to limit exposure by using digital x-ray sensors and specials machines that specifically target the mouth area, reducing exposure to other body parts. In fact, the body is covered by a protective lead apron for this very purpose.

Dr. Seminara’s x-ray recommendations are always based on your specific individual needs and the standard of care as prescribed by the Order of Dentists of Quebec and the Canadian Dental Association. Our goal is to take as few as necessary to keep your teeth and mouth in perfect health!