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Can a pregnant woman see the dentist? In a word… YES ! And she should ! Preventive dental cleanings and annual exams during pregnancy are not only safe, but are recommended. The rise in hormone levels during pregnancy causes the gums to swell, bleed and trap food causing increased irritation to your gums. Even painless at the time, oral infections such as gum disease can lead to pre-term birth and low birthweight babies. Professional cleanings are essential during pregnancy to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Schedule an appointment during your second trimester, and be sure to tell your dentist that you are pregnant and to disclose any medications or prenatal vitamins that your are taking.
Depending on the state of your dental health, your dentist may instruct you to come back for another cleaning while you are pregnant; this is completely normal. It is better to get another cleaning than to risk bacterial infection or increased risk of gingivitis and gum disease.
If you and your partner are thinking about having a baby, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist will not only clean your teeth, but will also check the health of your teeth and gums. If he or she notices any potential issues, like dental decay, it is better to address them before getting pregnant.
What is the most appropriate time for a pregnant woman to see the dentist ?
The second trimester is usually when a woman is feeling most comfortable. Most of the time morning sickness has passed, but you aren’t feeling too large and uncomfortable laying for long periods of time as you may be in the 3rd trimester. You should schedule an appointment for a professional cleaning during your second trimester, because the rise in hormone levels during pregnancy causes the gums to swell, bleed, and trap food causing increased irritation to your gums. Professional cleaning is important because increased hormone levels worsen the gums’ response to dental plaque, causing gum problems:
- gingivitis (gum inflammation). Symptoms include swelling of the gums and bleeding, particularly during brushing and flossing between teeth.
- pregnancy may worsen the periodontal disease, a chronic gum infection which is caused by an older untreated gingivitis and can lead to tooth loss. It can show up as gum swellings, known as pregnancy granulomas or pregnancy epulis
- pregnancy epulis or pyogenic granuloma – a localized enlargement of the gum, which is purplish in colour and can bleed easily. This may require additional professional cleaning and, rarely, excision.
During pregnancy, the gum problems that occur are not due to increased plaque, but a worse response to plaque as a result of increased hormone levels.
Women with dental emergencies that create severe pain can be treated during any trimester, but your obstetrician should be consulted during emergencies that require anesthesia or when medication is being prescribed.
How can i prevent these problems ?
You can prevent gingivitis by keeping your teeth clean, especially near the gumline. You should brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and after each meal when possible. You should also floss thoroughly each day. If brushing causes morning sickness, switch to a milder brand of toothpaste and rinse your mouth with water or with antiplaque and fluoride mouthwashes.
X rays during pregnancy
It’s possible you’ll need an X-ray if you suffer a dental emergency or if there is a need to diagnose a dental problem. Although radiation from dental X-rays is extremely low, your dentist or hygienist will cover you with a leaded apron that minimizes exposure to the abdomen. Your dental office will also cover your throat with a leaded collar to protect your thyroid from radiation. Only X-rays that are needed for emergencies should be taken during pregnancy.
￼ Leaded X-ray Apron
Anesthesia during pregnancy
Lidocaine is the most commonly used drug for dental work. It is a category B drug, which means that it is not toxic to the developing baby, though it does pass through the placenta, If dental work is needed, the amount of anesthesia administered should be as little as possible, but still enough to make you comfortable. If you are experiencing pain, request additional numbing. When you are comfortable, the amount of stress on you and the baby is reduced.
Which Medications Are Safe During Pregnancy?
Pain medication should be restricted to acetaminophen (Tylenol). Other pain medications such as aspirin and NSAIDS (ibuprofen and naproxen) should be avoided.
Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, cephalosporins, and clindamycin are generally considered safe to use during pregnancy. But tetracycline-related antibiotics are not recommended because they have been found to cause staining in the teeth of the developing baby.
Have a healthy diet while pregnant !