It’s a common misconception that pregnant women shouldn’t go to the dentist, so this is a question we get from many of our patients. Not only is it not a good idea to skip dental visits when you’re pregnant, it’s actually more important than ever to make sure your teeth and gums are in good shape. Pregnancy can bring on a whole host of unexpected oral health issues, from gingivitis to small tumors on the gums. Your dentist can help keep your mouth healthy throughout your pregnancy, because with everything else you have on your mind, the last thing you need to be worried about is tooth decay or gum disease.
What’s Safe and Not Safe During Pregnancy
One of the first reasons why women avoid the dentist during pregnancy is because they’re experiencing nausea. We absolutely understand that when you’re feeling queasy, even brushing your teeth can be enough to put you over the edge. By all means, if you need to put off your six-month dental check-up until you reach your second trimester, feel free to do so.
That said, you should plan on coming in at some point during your pregnancy for an exam. There’s no risk in having an oral examination and dental cleaning while you’re pregnant; just let us know if you’re taking any medication, have a high risk pregnancy, or have other instructions from your doctor. While we offer protection with a leaded apron and collar when we take x-rays, if you’d prefer to wait until after your baby is born, we are happy to accommodate that.
What if you need dental work? You might be surprised to know that dental treatment with local anesthetics is perfectly safe during pregnancy. Putting off treatment can have a significant impact on your oral health, so there’s no reason not to get that filling or crown while you’re pregnant. Indeed, the consequences of leaving dental issues untreated during pregnancy outweigh the risks of dental work.
The Impact of Pregnancy on Your Oral Health
Hormonal changes, along with changes in diet (a preference for sweet and starchy foods) and morning sickness can lead to pregnancy gingivitis, which causes swelling, tenderness, and bleeding in the gums. Without treatment, pregnancy gingivitis can lead to gingivitis after pregnancy and then regular periodontal disease, so it’s crucial to seek treatment. Pregnancy tumors can also appear on the gums, usually during the second trimester. These are not real tumors, but instead inflammation between the teeth; they usually go away on their own after your baby is born.
The changes in diet and morning sickness mentioned above can also leave your teeth more susceptible to decay, particularly if you become lax with your brushing and flossing routine. It’s important to push through and keep up with good oral hygiene habits. If you feel nauseated while brushing, sometimes switching to a different toothpaste can help, or try taking a break and sitting down between brushing your upper and lower teeth.