Topic: Dental Health & Pregnancy
A thorough dental exam before you conceive is as important as an overall medical check-up.
During pregnancy, you are at greater risk of certain dental problems, the most common of these is periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Because of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, your immune system becomes hypersensitive to the bacteria in dental plaque. So, when you have a problem, it’s likely to develop and deteriorate at a much greater rate than it would at any other time.
So, if you are planning a pregnancy, or have just found out you are pregnant it is wise to get your gums checked out to ensure there are no existing problems already, because periodontal disease can really accelerate throughout a pregnancy.
The other thing that’s important to know is that if you do develop gum disease during your pregnancy it can affect your baby because bacteria can be transmitted into your amniotic fluid. Researchers have found periodontal pathogens in amniotic fluid and placentas, which can lead to a greater risk of pre-eclampsia or a low birth weight for the baby. From your baby’s point of view, it’s a good idea for mum to have a healthy smile.
When the baby is born DNA testing has shown that 95% of the bacteria actually comes from Mum. This means that if you have any of those nasty bacteria that can cause infection, be it gum disease, tooth cavities or any other form of infection in the mouth, then you’ve got a very high chance of passing them on to your baby.
Dental X-Rays – Get a checkup before you fall pregnant
Another reason to be on top of your dental care when thinking about starting a family is to do with the use of X-Rays during pregnancy.
Even though dental X-Rays (particularly the Digital X-Rays we use at our practice) are a fraction of the radiation dosage of medical X-Rays, most people want to avoid any unnecessary exposure if they can. So, it is wise that you have your teeth examined and X-Rayed before you fall pregnant, so that if there are any cavities present you can deal with them before they become a problem during your pregnancy.
Is It Safe To Go To the Dentist During Pregnancy?
In between trips to the doctor, hospital tours and setting up the nursery, don’t let visiting the dentist fall off your pregnancy to-do list before your baby comes. Getting a checkup during pregnancy is safe and important for your dental health. Not only can you take care of cleanings and procedures like cavity fillings before your baby is born, but your dentist can help you with any pregnancy-related dental symptoms you might be experiencing.
The American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics all encourage women to get dental care while pregnant. “It is a crucial period of time in a woman’s life and maintaining oral health is directly related to good overall health,” says Aharon Hagai, D.M.D.
Here are some common concerns women have about going to the dentist during pregnancy.
When to Tell Your Dentist You Are Pregnant
Even if you only think you might be pregnant, let your dental office know. Tell them how far along you are when you make your appointment. Also let your dentist know about the medications you are taking or if you have received any special advice from your physician. If your pregnancy is high-risk or if you have certain medical conditions, your dentist and your physician may recommend that some treatments be postponed.
How Pregnancy Will Affect Your Mouth?
Although many women make it nine months with no dental discomfort, pregnancy can make some conditions worse – or create new ones. Regular checkups and good dental health habits can help keep you and your baby healthy.
Your mouth can be affected by the hormonal changes you will experience during pregnancy. For example, some women develop a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” an inflammation of the gums that can cause swelling and tenderness. Your gums also may bleed a little when you brush or floss. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious forms of gum disease. Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings to prevent this.
Increased Risk of Tooth Decay
Pregnant women may be more prone to cavities for a number of reasons. If you’re eating more carbohydrates than usual, this can cause decay. Morning sickness can increase the amount of acid your mouth is exposed to, which can eat away at the outer covering of your tooth (enamel).
Brushing twice a day and flossing once can also fall by the wayside during pregnancy for many reasons, including morning sickness, a more sensitive gag reflex, tender gums and exhaustion. It’s especially important to keep up your routine, as poor habits during pregnancy have been associated with premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
In some women, overgrowths of tissue called “pregnancy tumors” appear on the gums, most often during the second trimester. It is not cancer but rather just swelling that happens most often between teeth. They may be related to excess plaque. They bleed easily and have a red, raw-looking raspberry-like appearance. They usually disappear after your baby is born, but if you are concerned, talk to your dentist about removing them.
Be sure your dentist knows what, if any, prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs you are taking. This information will help your dentist determine what type of prescription, if any, to write for you. Your dentist can consult with your physician to choose medications—such as pain relievers or antibiotics—you may safely take during the pregnancy. Both your dentist and physician are concerned about you and your baby, so ask them any questions you have about medications they recommend.
Culled , Adapted from the references below