SolveYourProblem Article Series: Pregnancy
Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know



Dental Checkups During Pregnancy

When you go for a dental check-up, make sure your dentist knows you are pregnant. If possible try to avoid going in the first and later part of the third trimester. Microscopic cuts can happen during a routine dental exam and infection is a risk to be avoided at this time. The second and early part of the third trimester are great times to schedule a dental visit and make sure all is well. If you are interested in cosmetic dental care, it is best to wait till after delivery. Make sure you let your dentist know if you are taking any medications including your prenatal vitamin. Some medicines can affect bleeding and risk of infection for some dental procedures. If X-rays are essential and absolutely necessary (such as in a dental emergency), your dentist will use extreme caution to make absolute sure you and your baby are perfectly safe. Advances in technology have made X-rays much safer today than in past decades.

Don't skip your dental checkup appointment because you are pregnant, now more than any other time, regular periodontal (gum) examinations are very important. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that put you at increased risk factors for periodontal disease and for tender gums that bleed easily, a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. Pay particular attention to any changes in your gums during pregnancy. If tenderness, bleeding or gum swelling occurs at any time during your pregnancy, talk with your dentist or periodontist as soon as possible. Follow good oral hygiene practices to prevent and/or reduce oral health problems.

Will pregnancy affect my oral health?

The elevated levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in pregnant women can change the effects on plaque. Hormones can cause the gums to react differently to the bacteria found in plaque. The bacteria in plaque, not the increase in hormones, are what cause gingivitis. In many cases, this can cause a condition known as "pregnancy gingivitis". Symptoms include swollen, red and bleeding gums. Brush twice a day and after getting ill from morning sickness and floss before you go to bed to help avoid plaque build-up. Women who get regular dental check-ups prior to pregnancy decrease their chances of developing pregnancy gingivitis.

Should I receive dental treatment while I'm pregnant?

Continue with your regular dental cleaning and check-ups to avoid oral infections that can affect the fetus, such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. Dentists recommend that major dental treatments that aren't urgent be postponed until after your child is born. The first trimester, the stage of pregnancy in which most of the baby's organs are formed, is the most crucial to your baby's development and is at higher risk to maternal infection. It is best to have procedures performed during the second trimester to minimize any potential risk. Dental treatment is not recommended during the third trimester because the dental chair tends to be too uncomfortable for the mother. Make sure to see your dentist if your gums excessively bleed or are swollen.

If I do need treatment, what drugs are safe?

Be extremely cautious of all drugs during pregnancy. If you have gingivitis or periodontal disease, your dentist may want to treat you more often to ward off infection and achieve healthy gums and a healthy baby. If you need to have dental treatment done during your pregnancy, some acceptable antibiotics include penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin. It is important to avoid tetracycline, which can cause discoloration of your child's temporary and permanent teeth. Pain products containing acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, are approved, but you should be wary of other over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Avoid using narcotics for dental pain until your child is carried to term. Narcotics are not safe drugs to use while pregnant. Novocain has also been known to pass through the placenta, but no known side effects have been found.

Coping With Morning Sickness

If morning sickness is keeping you from brushing your teeth, change to a bland-tasting toothpaste or baking soda during your pregnancy. Ask your dentist or hygienist to recommend brands. Donít brush immediately after getting sick; it can just trigger another episode. Rinse your mouth out with water or a mouth rinse if you suffer from morning sickness and have bouts of frequent vomiting. Brush your teeth after your stomach has settled.

Eating Right for Your Teeth and Baby

Avoid sugary snacks and tons of sweets. Sweet cravings are common during pregnancy but should be kept to a minimum for healthy teeth. However, keep in mind that the more frequently you snack, the greater the chance of developing tooth decay, so brush more often if you have to eat more frequent meals. Additionally, some studies have shown that the bacteria responsible for tooth decay are passed from the mother to the child. So be careful of what you eat. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Your baby's first teeth begin to develop about three months into your pregnancy. Healthy diets containing dairy products, cheese and yogurt. These are a good source of these essential minerals and are good for your baby's developing teeth, gums, and bones.

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