Don’t Neglect Your Teeth When You’re Expecting

Many women wonder whether they can or should see a dentist during pregnancy, and the answer is most definitely YES!

Routine Care

The American Pregnancy Association recommends dental check-ups and cleanings during pregnancy because the “rise in hormone levels during pregnancy causes the gums to swell, bleed and trap food causing increased irritation to your gums. Preventive dental work while pregnant is essential to avoid oral infections such as gum disease, which has been linked to pre-term birth.”

In addition, pregnancy can increase acidity in the mouth, which can cause to tooth decay. Frequent morning sickness and vomiting can contribute to this problem.

Pregnancy hormones can also cause teeth to loosen as the ligaments in the jaw relax, so it is beneficial to have your dentist check your teeth for any complications.

Dental Procedures

As for more extensive procedures, such as fillings and crowns, it is best to wait until after pregnancy, if possible. If not, scheduling the procedure during the second trimester is best – that period of pregnancy is considered lower risk, plus it may be more difficult to lie on your back by the time you reach the third trimester.

If you must have an emergency or urgent treatment, such as a root canal, discuss anesthesia with your dentist. Lidocaine is a common anesthesia used in dental practices. It is classified as a category B drug (category B drugs include those that have been shown to have no risk to a fetus in animal testing, but no studies on pregnant women have been conducted). As it does cross the placenta, so a low dosage is preferred.

In emergency cases, and X-ray is usually necessary, and the American College of Radiology has shown that one exposure to an X-ray during pregnancy produces radiation at levels too low to affect the fetus. (This FAQanswers some questions about X-rays during pregnancy.)

Other Considerations

Some patients with certain heart conditions are asked to pre-medicate with antibiotics prior to dental visits. If that applies to you, talk to your dentist about recommendations regarding pre-medication during pregnancy. Your provider may prescribe a different antibiotic than your usual during this time.

Cosmetic treatments like teeth whitening should be avoided during pregnancy.