IT’S IMPORTANT TO VISIT THE DENTIST
IT’S SAFE TO VISIT THE DENTIST WHEN YOU ARE PREGNANT
Dental treatment is safe for pregnant women, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Pregnancy Association. Preventive dental cleanings and annual exams are recommended during pregnancy because if dental disease is present and is not treated, it can lead to more serious health problems such as infection, pain and inability to eat. Delaying treatment until after your pregnancy may make any existing dental issues worse.
X-rays using proper shielding, giving local anesthesia and necessary emergency treatments, like a tooth extraction or root canal therapy, can all be performed safely by your dentist during pregnancy.
Talk to your dentist about your pregnancy
Your dentist is part of your healthcare team.
Be sure to tell your dentist if you:
- are pregnant, think that you might be pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant
- have been told about any risks linked with your pregnancy or any special advice from your physician or obstetrician (OB/GYN)
- have any other medical condition
- have had any changes in your health or medicines you take since your last visit
If you are pregnant, make sure to tell your dentist and let him or her know when the expected delivery date is. This will help the two of you plan any necessary treatments before the baby arrives.
Your dentist can talk with your physician or OB/GYN about any treatment that is recommended. If you are planning to become pregnant, have your teeth professionally cleaned at your dentist’s office and schedule any needed treatment. This can help lower your risk of having a dental emergency during your pregnancy.
Medication for dental procedures
There are many medications that are safe to have during pregnancy, including local anesthetics and some antibiotics. Your dentist may talk with your physician to determine which medicines — such as pain relievers — you may take safely during your pregnancy. Discuss any questions or concerns you have with your dentist and physician.
Routine dental x-rays during pregnancy are generally safe. Radiation from dental x-rays is very low, and your dentist may cover your abdomen with a protective shield (lead apron). If an x-ray exam is needed, your dentist will discuss this with you and take steps to reduce your radiation exposure.
ORAL HEALTH CONDITIONS ARE COMMON
Many women develop gingivitis (jin-ji-VY-tis) during pregnancy. The hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more sensitive to plaque. Your gums may become red and tender and may bleed easily when you brush your teeth. If gingivitis is not treated, it may lead to more serious gum diseases. Your dentist may recommend more frequent professional cleanings to help you avoid problems.
Dental caries and erosion
Dental caries (tooth decay) and tooth erosion may occur due to vomiting from morning sickness. Tooth decay may also develop because of changes in diet, like more frequent snacking, more acid in the mouth from dry mouth that sometimes occurs with pregnancy or poor oral hygiene habits.
In some women, growths of tissue called pregnancy tumors appear on the gums, most often during the second trimester. These growths or swellings are usually found between the teeth. Excess plaque can inflame the gums and cause them to swell. They bleed easily and appear red and shiny.
These growths may go away after your baby is born. If necessary, your dentist can remove them. If you notice any swelling or other changes in your gums, see your dentist.
Many pregnant women develop gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Signs of gingivitis include red and tender or swollen gums. They may bleed easily when you brush your teeth.
Pregnancy tumors may go away after your baby is born; if necessary, your dentist can remove them.
KEEP YOUR MOUTH HEALTHY
It’s important for your own health as well as your child’s to have a healthy mouth before your child is born. A wide variety of bacteria live in your mouth, which is normal. The film of bacteria on your teeth (called plaque) turns sugars in the foods you eat into acid that attacks the teeth. This can cause tooth decay and a cavity can form.
To help prevent tooth decay:
- Brush 2 times a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is a mineral that helps keep your teeth’s outer layer of enamel strong and decay-free.
- Clean between your teeth once a day with floss or another between-the-teeth cleaner.
- If you need help controlling plaque, your dentist may recommend a bacteria-fighting mouthrinse.
- If you have morning sickness and are vomiting often, stomach acids come into contact with your teeth. Over time, these acids can cause tooth enamel to wear away. Tell your dentist about this situation. To lessen the effect of this acid, you can rinse your mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water. Don’t brush your teeth right after vomiting. Wait until the acids are rinsed away, about 60 minutes.
- Look for oral health products that display the ADA Seal of Acceptance. The ADA Seal is your sign that these products are tested and proven to be safe and effective in keeping your mouth healthy.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY DURING YOUR PREGNANCY
Choose healthy foods
What you eat during pregnancy affects the growth of your developing baby — including their teeth. Your baby’s teeth begin to develop between months 3 and 6 of pregnancy. So, it’s important that you take in enough nutrients, especially calcium, protein, phosphorous and vitamins A, C and D.
You do not lose calcium from your teeth during pregnancy. Your diet — not your teeth — provides the calcium your baby needs. Be sure to get enough calcium in your diet for you and your baby by having at least 3 servings of dairy products or other calcium-rich foods each day. Or, your obstetrician (OB/GYN) may recommend that you take calcium supplements.
For more ideas about how to eat healthy, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.
Don’t smoke or use tobacco in any form!
Using any form of tobacco is not only harmful to your health, but it can also harm your developing baby. Not only does tobacco increase your risk of gum disease and cancer, but it also contains the highly addictive chemical, nicotine. Your newborn baby can be fussy and irritable because they are going through nicotine withdrawal. Smoking cigarettes while you are pregnant can increase your baby’s risk of low birth weight and developing chronic health problems like asthma. Talk to your dentist or physician about ways you can safely quit.
ADA HEALTHY SMILE TIPS
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean between your teeth daily.
- Eat a healthy diet that limits sugary beverages and snacks.
- See your dentist regularly for prevention and treatment of oral disease.
For more information about taking care of your mouth and teeth, visit MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s website just for patients.