There’s no doubt that pregnant women have to be cautious about what they eat, drink, and are exposed to during pregnancy. In particular, things like smoking, alcohol, certain medications, and some chemicals should be avoided, and your obstetrician can help you determine what’s safe for you.
But if you’re wondering if you should put off that dental visit because you’ve got a baby in your belly, the answer is no. Routine checkups, exams, and even restorative services like fillings and root canals, are safe and should not be postponed.
How Pregnancy Affects Your Mouth
Pregnancy causes a number of changes throughout a woman’s body, and the mouth is no exception. Many women experience swollen gums that tend to bleed. This is known as pregnancy gingivitis. This is not a cause for great concern, but be sure you continue proper dental care to keep it from progressing to more serious gum disease.
Some research suggests that periodontitis, a serious form a gum disease, is linked to premature birth. This is yet another reason you should head to your dentist when you’re pregnant – not avoid him! Periodontitis can be prevented with regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups. If you’re pregnant and can’t remember the last time you went to the dentist, there’s never been a better time to go.
In addition, you may be more susceptible to plaque buildup and periodontal infections during pregnancy. If you’re snacking on saltines to ward off nausea or if you’ve struggled with vomiting from morning sickness, your mouth may be feeling the stress. Carbohydrates tend to cause plaque buildup, and the acid from being sick can harm your enamel. If you’ve struggled with nausea and/or vomiting, tell your dentist. He or she should help make you as comfortable as possible during your visit and check for potential issues due to your pregnancy.
Safety of Fillings, X-Rays, and More
Although many women are nervous about getting fillings, root canals, or other dental work done during pregnancy, these procedures are safe. Lidocaine, the numbing agent used during many dental procedures, has been proven safe during pregnancy. In fact, the findings were published in the Journal of the American Dental Association. If you have a cavity or another dental issue, don’t hesitate to call your dentist and get it repaired.
Dental x-rays are often shunned by pregnant women as well, but they don’t have to be. It’s true that x-rays can be delayed if you have no signs of dental problems, but the radiation levels from today’s dental x-rays are extremely low and won’t harm you or your baby when done properly. Your abdomen and neck will be covered with a lead cape to block any radiation from reaching your baby or your thyroid gland.
Good Communication is Key
During your appointment, tell your dentist if you’re pregnant or if you think you might be. Certain medications should be avoided during pregnancy, so your dentist will need to be aware of your situation to provide the safest care. Proper dental care is essential for a healthy mouth and a healthy baby – so call your dentist to schedule your appointment. Pregnancy is hard enough, so don’t suffer with dental problems unnecessarily!
Craig Armstrong, DDS, and his team provide comprehensive and compassionate care for your dental health needs during pregnancy and throughout your life. Contact our Westchase office today to schedule your appointment!