Seems like lately we have had a lot of patients who are pregnant for the first time and they have a lot of good questions and concerns about the effects of pregnancy on their mouths, and if they should come to the dentist. With all of the study’s that show a strong link with periodontal disease and low birth weight babies and pre term deliveries, yes you should go to the dentist. The American Academy of Periodontology recommendation is below:
- Dental care is part of ensuring a healthy pregnancy. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) advises pregnant women to seek typical preventive oral health care including periodontal evaluation, teeth cleaning, and any necessary restorative treatment. AAP suggests that scaling and root planing be performed early in the second trimester and that infection or abscess should be treated at any time during the pregnancy.
- Professional oral health intervention may be undertaken at any time during pregnancy. However, the period between week 14 and week 20 is considered ideal.17 The first trimester is a delicate time when a significant amount of development is occurring and the third trimester may present comfort issues for pregnant patients.
- · The final trimester of pregnancy may pose difficulties in positioning and comfort for the patient. Vena caval compression is a risk.18 Patients receiving care in the third trimester should be situated on their left side and repositioned often to increase comfort and reduce risk of vena caval compression.18 Emergency dental procedures should be performed at any point during the pregnancy, however.
Most patients are concerned with getting x-rays during pregnancy. If you have been getting your regular 6 month cleanings, then you do not have to get x-rays. If you haven’t been to a dentist for a few years then the dentist may want to get some x-rays or if you are having a toothache, but don’t worry, a lead apron (or 2 lead aprons) will be placed over you and over the baby, and even better than that digital x-rays use very little radiation, both of these methods are safe
The most common oral related problem we see with pregnancy is “pregnancy gingivitis”. Bleeding gums is very common during pregnancy and even after delivery because of the change in hormones. Many patients stop flossing because of the bleeding, but you should continue to brush and floss and keep your mouth as clean as possible. Once the baby is here and the hormones go back to normal the bleeding will stop. A very low percentage of women may develop a “pregnancy tumor” or “pyogenic granuloma”, these are small tumors on the gum tissue, and although they look bad they are not cancerous and they usually shrink and go away after the baby is delivered, some have to be removed but it’s is very rare.
Another issue is morning sickness and heart burn, these are troublesome because both cause erosion of enamel. If you have morning sickness and you vomit, do NOT brush your teeth right after because you will burnish the acid into the enamel, instead of brushing, rinse your mouth with baking soda and water. (Baking soda is a base that will neutralize the acid ) If you have heart burn talk to your physician about taking medication to help. During your vomiting or heartburn phase, use a toothpaste that helps with enamel erosion such as Pronamel by Sensodyne.
Something that I hear a lot from mothers is, “My baby took the calcium from my teeth when I was pregnant.” This is a myth. People do get cavities during pregnancy but is caused by acid weakening the enamel if you have morning sickness, the sugary foods from our crazy cravings, and by just being too tired to brush and floss before you fall asleep. If you keep a healthy diet and good oral care you shouldn’t get cavities during pregnancy.
Congratulations to all of our expecting patients!!!!