Tips on Dental Care While Pregnant
Pregnancy hormones can wreak havoc on a mom’s mouth and can increase the chances of developing a variety of dental issues including cavities, gingivitis and periodontal disease. Some studies have shown a correlation between the presence of dental bacterial infections like periodontal disease and preterm low-birth-weight babies, although studies remain inconclusive about how exactly periodontal disease affects pregnant moms.
Safe Dental Care for Pregnant Moms
Here are some safe dental care guidelines for pregnant moms:
1) Don’t skip your routine dental cleanings and check ups. Being pregnant is accompanied by the potential for more oral health issues related to hormones and eating habits and nutrition. With that in mind, you need to stay on top of them to stop any problems before they become more serious.
2) Make sure your dentist knows that you are pregnant and what medications, if any, you’re taking and the dosages.
3) As a rule, dental treatments are avoided during the first trimester and the second half of the third trimester as these are the most critical times in a baby’s growth and development. Any elective procedures such as bleaching or other cosmetic treatments should be put off until after the baby is born.
4) While “no single diagnostic x-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus” according to the American College of Radiology, most dentists will delay taking X-rays until after the baby is born. The only exception would be in extreme cases where there is dental trauma or extreme pain or other dental condition that must be addressed immediately (e.g., a root canal).
5) Note that drugs in Category B (e.g., penicillin, lidocaine, amoxicillin, acetaminophen) are commonly used in dentistry to address infections or pain issues. According to the FDA, there is no evidence of risk from use during pregnancy. Discuss any concerns with your dentist or family doctor.
6) There is no evidence that the fetus is exposed to mercury through a pregnant mother’s existing amalgam (silver) fillings and precautions are taken during filling placement and removal to limit elemental mercury exposure. Still, it is often suggested that amalgam fillings not be placed during pregnancy. Composite or resin fillings are often a temporary treatment option for cavities until an amalgam can be placed after birth.
7) Establish thorough oral hygiene practices to decrease the chances of more severe oral health issues such as periodontal disease, particularly during pregnancy.
8) Don’t brush your teeth immediately after vomiting if morning sickness is an issue. Rinse with water first, then a fluoride mouthwash, or use your finger to smear toothpaste on your teeth. Wait at least an hour before brushing your teeth.
9) Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and avoid sugary snacks, or eat them only with meals. This will decrease the risk of sugar remaining on your teeth and over time attacking your tooth enamel and gums. Pregnancy hormones increase the intensity of your body’s normal reaction to these oral conditions, and decrease the production of saliva, which can lead to more serious gum and tooth decay issues.
Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
Dental Care and Pregnancy. WebMD. Web. Feb 16, 2012.
Teeth and pregnancy. Better Health Channel. Web. Feb 16, 2012.
Oral Health Care during Pregnancy and Early Childhood Practice Guidelines. New York State Department of Health (2006). Web. Feb 16, 2012.
Dental Work during Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. Web. Feb 16, 2012.