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Pregnancy and Oral Health

A common question we hear is “If I’m pregnant can I have dental work done?” Preventative dental cleanings and annual exams are not only safe, but recommended. Preventative dental work while pregnant is essential to avoid oral infections such as gum disease, which has been linked to preterm birth.  Cavity fillings and crowns should be treated to reduce the chance of infection.

If dental work is done during pregnancy, the second trimester is preferred.  The safest course of action is to postpone all cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening until after the baby is born.

Lidocaine is the most common medication used during dental work. Even though it does cross the placenta after administration, it is not toxic to the developing baby. Dental work often requires antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin to prevent or treat infections.  These are labeled as safe during pregnancy.

Routine x-rays can usually be postponed until after the birth. In the case of an emergency the American Dental Association has stated that no single diagnostic x-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus.

Be on the lookout for these common conditions during pregnancy:

  1. Gum disease. During pregnancy, teeth and gums need special attention.  Regular tooth brushing twice a day, flossing daily, eating a balanced diet and regular visits to the dentist will help reduce dental problems during pregnancy.
  2. Enamel erosion. Morning sickness can be a major symptom of pregnancy for some women. Along with the nausea comes additional acid that can erode your teeth if left in your mouth.  Be sure to rinse your mouth out with water or a fluoride mouthwash to keep the acid level under control.
  3. Pregnancy gingivitis. The rise in hormone levels during pregnancy causes the gums to swell, bleed and trap food causing increased irritation to your gums and potential infection.
  4. Dry mouth. Dry mouth during pregnancy can put women at a greater risk for tooth decay and infections. Remember to drink plenty of water and chew sugarless gum to enhance production of saliva.

So, brush and floss daily. More if you experience morning sickness. Keep your appointments. Maintaining dental hygiene visits every 3 to 6 months is important to minimizing gingivitis and the problems that can result.  Morning sickness often fades after the first trimester, so many women find the second trimester the best time for dental visits.

Posted June 7th, 2017