Pregnancy can be a time of joy, but it may mixed with fear and uncertainty for your own and your baby’s health. Part of that uncertainty may be concern for your oral health.
Many women have heard that they should not see a dentist when they are pregnant. This is bad advice. While there are valid concerns about exposure to X-rays during pregnancy, modern dentistry is well aware of the issue and has effective procedures to deal with it.
Of greater concern should be your overall oral health, because the healthier you are, the healthier your baby will be. Pregnancy itself can lead to conditions like pregnancy gingivitis, tooth decay, and pregnancy tumors, and this is exactly why getting proper dental care throughout your pregnancy is in your best interest.
Annual Exam and Cleaning
The American Pregnancy Association recommends annual cleanings and exams for expectant mothers. The usual reasons for having these procedures haven’t stopped due to pregnancy – you still want to maintain good dental health. But in addition, pregnancy leads to hormonal changes in your body and increased acidity in your mouth due to morning sickness and acid reflux, and these can lead to problems such as pregnancy gingivitis and an increased risk of tooth decay.
Additionally, mothers-to-be may experience pregnancy tumors, which is a swelling of the gums that usually develops during the second trimester. While these tumors are not related to cancer, they can be uncomfortable and may need special treatment.
It is recommended that you see your dentist during the second trimester if you need a routine dental exam. This ensures your baby is past the most critical stage of development in the first trimester, but also that you are still able to sit comfortably in the dental chair during your exam.
For routine exams, talk with your dentist about whether to have X-rays now or wait until your baby is born. According to the American College of Radiology, no single X-ray exam will pose a risk to you baby. The dosage of modern X-ray equipment is just too low to have any effect.
X-rays may be necessary for some dental procedures, especially dental emergencies. In these cases, you will be provided with a lead apron to cover your abdomen and further protect your baby during the X-ray.
Routine Dental Work
Good oral health during pregnancy is important to the health of your growing baby. If you need a cavity filled, a crown installed, or a root canal, postponing it can lead to an infection which could have a negative effect on your baby’s development. Ask your dentist about the work your mouth needs and whether it is best to do it now or wait until your baby is born.
One of the chief concerns of expecting mothers is the effect medications will have on the baby. A 2015 study conducted the Journal of the American Dental Association found was that there was no observable risk for the baby from the use of local anesthetics during routine dental work. To play it safe, you may wish to wait until the second trimester before having routine work done that requires use of such medications. If it’s a dental emergency, though, your dentist will discuss options to maximize your comfort during the procedure while ensuring the baby’s safety.
The best plan for you and your baby is to keep your mouth and teeth as healthy as possible before and during pregnancy, and talk with your dentist about your concerns. If you are pregnant, or if you think you might be, let your dentist or dental hygienist know at the start of your appointment.
To maintain your oral health before, during and after pregnancy, contact Lane Avenue Family Dentistry in Jacksonville. We also care for the oral health of infants and young children – all the way through adulthood.