Not only is it OK for you to have dental work done while you are pregnant, but it is highly recommended. Dental health is an important part of your overall health, and the healthier you are, the more likely your growing baby is to be healthy as well. Of course, every woman and every pregnancy is different, so you should always consult with your primary doctor and dentist about any unusual risks or concerns. For most women with typical pregnancies, however, the following information can provide a guide to maintaining your dental health at this time.
Routine Cleanings and Checkups
If you are planning to become pregnant, schedule a cleaning and checkup as soon as possible. This allows you to have any issues treated before becoming pregnant, maximizing your dental health for the upcoming pregnancy.
In addition, it is very important for women who are currently pregnant to have regular dental checkups and routine cleaning procedures. Pregnancy hormones can cause your gums to swell and bleed, increasing the risk for gum disease. Untreated gum disease can increase the risk of premature birth, so excellent oral hygiene (especially regular flossing) is essential. A checkup can also identify any problems, such as cavities, so they can be treated before they cause further issues.
Morning sickness can make it difficult for some women to brush their teeth, especially in the mornings. Consider switching to a bland or lightly flavored toothpaste for the duration of your pregnancy. Rinse your mouth with water after any vomiting episodes to minimize potential damage to your tooth enamel. Give us a call if you experience tooth sensitivity, bleeding gums or any other oral concerns.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women avoid nonessential X-rays. However, they also acknowledge that dental X-rays can be vital in accurately diagnosing and treating dental emergencies. The American College of Radiology notes that a single diagnostic X-ray does not contain enough radiation to harm a developing fetus, and modern X-ray shielding makes even the slight risk much lower than it used to be. The digital X-rays that we use in our office subject you to less radiation than you would experience flying in an airplane and is therefore not a concern should we determine that X-rays are necessary during your pregnancy.
It is generally OK to postpone your routine preventive X-rays until after the baby is born. Let us know that you are pregnant, and we will work with you to minimize your exposure to X-rays as much as possible.
If you need an extraction, root canal, crown or other procedure, it is important to take care of it. Postponing treatment can increase the risk of infection. Be sure to let us know how far along you are in the pregnancy, as we might be able to work together to schedule the procedure at an optimum time.
In general, the second trimester is considered the best time for dental work. This is due mainly to patient comfort – during the first trimester many women experience morning sickness and having work done in their mouths can exacerbate this. During the third trimester, many women are uncomfortable lying on their backs in the dentist’s chair. If you need emergency dental work during your third trimester, we can minimize your discomfort by adjusting the position of your chair.
Anesthesia and Medications
Dental work often involves both anesthesia and pre- or post-treatment antibiotics and pain relievers. One of the most common dental anesthetics has been found to be safe for use during pregnancy, so there is no need for concern should you need a procedure that requires anesthetic during your pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that you use the least amount of medication that is necessary to make you comfortable, but notes that remaining comfortable is important for reducing stress on the baby. Only you, together with your dentist and your doctor, can decide which medications you are comfortable with. Make sure we know of all medications you are currently taking.
While maintaining dental health during pregnancy is essential, it is best to put off elective procedures such as tooth whitening and veneers. Although the risks of dental work to your unborn baby are generally quite low, there is no need to expose the baby to even minimal unnecessary risks. In addition, you might experience heightened discomfort in the dentist’s chair, especially during the third trimester. Putting off elective treatments until after your baby is born ensures that you are optimally fit and comfortable when undergoing the treatments.
Maintaining good oral health is important throughout your life, and it is particularly essential during pregnancy. Infections in the mother can compromise the baby’s health, and make it more likely for you to experience premature delivery. Keep your regular schedule of checkups and cleanings, and plan to have any necessary procedures performed. Let us know of your pregnancy and how far along you are when you make your appointment, and talk to both your doctor and your dentist about any questions or concerns.
Family Dental Care of Bellevue provides quality dental care to patients and their families. Call us today 425 643-5778 to see how we can help improve your smile.