Adding a member to your family is an exciting time. With so many appointments to ensure the health of mother and baby, it’s easy to forget that your teeth, gums and tongue play an important part in your overall health and wellness. Routine dental care while pregnant doesn’t just ensure you have a sparkling smile to match your new glow — it can also potentially prevent complications late in pregnancy and during birth and head off problems with your oral health after your bundle of joy enters the world.
Oral Health and Pregnancy
Expecting a new baby can affect your oral health. Rising hormone levels can increase inflammation in your body, leading to a higher risk of sore gums or even gum disease. Fatigue from growing a new life can make it easy to forget brushing before bedtime. Morning sickness and acid reflux can result in acid damage to your enamel. But the implications of forgetting your teeth and gums during this exciting time can have more effects than just diminishing your own smile: your oral health during pregnancy can actually have far-reaching complications for you and your baby.
Moms who experience gum disease while pregnant may actually create more prostaglandins within their body — the hormonal chemical that may be partially responsible for premature labor. Bacterial buildup can also cause problems, entering the bloodstream and causing a whole range of issues from heart palpitations to even scarier outcomes. And there’s a chance that the bacteria in mom’s mouth can be passed to baby — leading to a potentially rocky road for baby as they grow and develop their own teeth.
How Often Should I See a Dentist When Pregnant?
Keep your regularly scheduled semiannual cleaning and exam, but let your dentist know right away if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. Your dentist will be able to tailor your care and treatment for your individual needs and circumstances during this exciting time. While most procedures and care are safe, you may be limited to a basic checkup and cleaning during your first trimester when your baby is growing and developing at a rapid rate.
You’ll also want to schedule a follow-up for your second or third trimester to keep on top of any potential problems that are the direct result of hormonal changes. Your dentist can better assess your oral health and advise you on the best course of treatment both before and after baby is born — and answer any questions about oral health for your expected bundle of joy.
What About Emergencies?
If you experience a dental emergency while pregnant, don’t put off seeking treatment. Instead, let your dentist know you’re expecting and let them determine the best course of action. Chipped or broken teeth, infections, sores and lesions can all potentially lead to unnecessary pain in the short term and long-term consequences and complications, so don’t wait to get needed care. Occasionally your dentist may decide that the risk of a treatment outweighs the benefit and can come up with a treatment or care plan that includes temporary pain relief or measures to carry out until after you give birth and can attend to your problem properly.
Can I Get Dental X-Rays During Pregnancy?
The American Dental Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both agree that dental X-rays are safe during all stages of pregnancy, and they recommend that thyroid and abdominal shielding be used for all patients preparing for a new addition to their families. The amount of radiation received during a routine set of dental X-rays is negligible for most people and, to put it in perspective, exposes a person to less than the daily amount of micro radiation from other sources — and is about 100 times less exposure than a task like going through an airport security scanner. Let your dentist know and follow any safety protocols put in place to keep you and baby safe.
Your Dentist Is Here to Help
While the office of Drs. Krieger and Hur is currently closed to preserve the health of our patients and staff during this unusual time, we’re absolutely missing our patients. If you’re on the road to expanding your family, congratulations from all of us here at the office! Our phones are currently not monitored, but you can send any questions, concerns or comments to us by email by clicking here.
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