No Need To Skip The Dentist While You’re Pregnant

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If you are one of those people who look for any reason to avoid visiting the dentist, we have some bad news for you. You can’t use your pregnancy as an excuse.

Pregnant women can have regular dental check-ups and teeth cleaning safely, according to both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Both organizations not only say that such visits are safe, but that you not avoid them.

Your dental health is vital to your overall health. According to ACOG, about a third of pregnant women tell their obstetricians they have not seen a dentist within the past year. About 40% of pregnant women have some form of periodontal disease, which includes cavities and inflammation of the gums, ACOG also notes.

Seeing Your Dentist

You should schedule an appointment with your dentist twice a year. Routine visits to the dentist include check-ups and having your teeth cleaned. These kinds of visits are safe for pregnant women.

ACOG tells obstetricians to discuss oral health and that they should counsel their pregnant patients to visit the dentist. Improving a woman’s oral health is believed to reduce the risk of her passing the germs that cause tooth decay to her baby.

The amount of x-rays used to take images of your teeth is very small. While the image is taken, your belly (and most of the rest of your upper body) will be covered by a special apron that is lined with lead and that blocks x-rays. In addition, local anesthesia, those shots that to numb parts of your mouth, is safe, according to the ADA.

Less routine dental procedures, such as root canals and filling cavities are also safe during pregnancy.

The best time for a visit to the dentist is probably during your second trimester. This is more a matter of avoiding the nausea that can occur in your first trimester and with being less comfortable lying on your back in the dental chair during your last trimester. If you only need a regular checkup and cleaning and you are in your last trimester, you can postpone your appointment until after your baby is born, but if you need emergency treatment, for a broken tooth for example, don’t put it off.

Tell your dentist and dental hygienist that you are pregnant. In fact, any time you visit the dentist’s office and you think you might be pregnant, make sure to tell them.

Pregnancy and Your Mouth

Many women experience some dental problems due to their pregnancy. Changing hormone levels can cause your gums to swell and become sore. This is called pregnancy gingivitis. Women are also more likely to develop cavities while they are pregnant.

Nausea, gastric reflux, and vomiting during pregnancy can cause changes in the mouth. Vomiting increases the levels of acid in your mouth which can cause erosion of the enamel of your teeth. ACOG recommends that if you have frequent reflux or if you are vomiting a lot that you use an antacid. You should rinse your mouth out well after you throw up.

Keep up with your brushing and flossing during your pregnancy. Brush your teeth twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride and floss once a day.

Valerie DeBenedette
Valerie DeBenedette is an experienced health and medical writer who lives about an hour north of New York City with a dog that is smaller than her cat. Her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and on websites. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers.

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