Dentist is key when pregnant

by By Kelly Harness, DMD | 03 February, 2020

Teeth and gums are vulnerable while carrying

Planning nursery themes, picking out names, going to doctors appointments – the list is endless and finding time for the dentist is usually at the end of the list; however, it is one of the most important things you can do for you and your unborn child.

Pregnancy is an especially vulnerable time for your teeth and gums. If you are planning to become pregnant it is best to have a dental exam prior to becoming pregnant so that any potential problems can be handled without complication. In addition, it is important to have a screening for periodontal and gum disease. Studies have shown that women who have periodontal or gum disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is preterm or has a low birth weight. Studies also have shown that bacteria responsible for decay is passed from mother to child. Eliminating decay in your mouth before you get pregnant may help protect your baby.

If you are pregnant it is important to visit your dentist in your first and second trimesters to control plaque and maintain good oral health. With pregnancy comes a whole host of hormonal changes which can translate to an increase in the plaque that builds up on the teeth and bleeding swollen gums. At that appointment the dentist can assess your oral condition and map out a dental plan for the rest of the pregnancy. X-rays are usually avoided during pregnancy but sometimes it is essential to have x-rays for emergency situations. Special care is taken by using a lead apron and lowering the exposure. A visit to the dentist is also recommended in the second trimester for a cleaning to monitor changes and to gauge the effectiveness of your oral hygiene. Nonemergency procedures are best performed in the second trimester while emergencies can be treated at any time.

From experience, I know the cravings, the morning sickness and the gagging that comes with the joy of being pregnant. It is important to realize that snacking on sweet foods can increase the rate of decay. If you snack between meals, choose whole, sugar-free foods. If the bowl of ice cream or chocolate candy is calling your name, try to brush your teeth afterwards. If you vomit frequently during pregnancy it is important to rinse your mouth out with water. Brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting can cause your teeth to wear away. Stomach acids soften the tooth thereby making brushing more abrasive. If gagging while brushing is your problem try changing you toothpaste brand to a more subtle, bland taste and use less. Sometime you can use none at all. It is more important to use the brush rather than the paste. 

Pregnancy is an exciting time. I thoroughly enjoyed my nine months of preparation for one of the biggest joys in my life. Being able to worry about one less thing by scheduling regular check ups will make pregnancy even more enjoyable.