Expectant mothers have enough on their minds without having to worry about their teeth and gums, too. But just because baby is on the way doesn’t mean you can neglect your oral health. There are special circumstances that arise while carrying a baby that aren’t present at any other time, including the potential for developing pregnancy gingivitis.
Don’t Avoid the Dentist While Pregnant
You may think you have a great excuse to avoid the dentist as a pregnant woman – after all, if you get dry heaves from your toothpaste how can you possibly manage a dental exam and cleaning? However, morning sickness does not – in most cases – last all nine months. And depending on when you had your last dental appointment, you may have the opportunity to get two dental cleanings and exams throughout your pregnancy – and you should definitely honor those appointments.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reports that over half of pregnant women avoid getting dental exams. The likely reason why? Expectant mothers worry that dental treatment could harm their growing baby. The reality, however, is that neglecting to care for your teeth is what could actually harm your baby, and you.
The Biggest Oral Health Side Effect During Pregnancy
The health of your mouth absolutely has an impact on your overall well-being and, therefore, your baby’s health. With the supercharged hormones that are a normal part of pregnancy comes the possibility of developing swollen gums. Your risks for having irritated or infected gums is more likely when gums are swollen because food can become more easily trapped.
According to the ACOG, about 40 percent of mothers-to-be are dealing with a dental health problem, like gum infections or untreated tooth decay. Keeping up with your preventive dental appointments ensures that plaque and tartar will be removed from your teeth, and these appointments also give your holistic dentist the opportunity to closely examine your gums to ensure that no problems are developing.
If you find yourself with tender, swollen, or even bleeding gums during pregnancy, make an appointment with your dentist right away for the proper treatment and preventive methods for putting a damper on pregnancy gingivitis before it gets out of control.
Best Oral Health Practices During Pregnancy
Preventive dental care is especially important during pregnancy, though x-rays should be avoided. This being said, if it’s absolutely necessary to have an x-ray done to determine the source of pain, rest assured that the radiation levels of dental x-rays are very low.
Restorative dentistry treatments, particularly those that need to be completed because of an emergency oral health problem, and perhaps even require sedation dentistry, should be approached with caution. Always discuss any dentistry treatments with your OB/GYN before proceeding, and always let your dentist know if you are expecting a child. Chances are, most treatments can wait until after your baby’s birth. If it is absolutely necessary to have the repair made, the second trimester is the safest time to undergo treatment. In some cases, risking infection and potentially inducing early labor is a bigger risk than a dental procedure. You, your dentist, and your doctor should work together to weigh the situation.
Cosmetic dentistry can and should wait until after you deliver. After all, your baby isn’t going to care if your teeth are gleaming white. Though you may want to consider treating yourself with a teeth whitening treatment or a more involved smile makeover after you deliver – a congratulatory gift to yourself, and a new smile will make you feel like your best self even in the throes of regular late-night wake-up calls from your infant.
Even though you’re a mom-to-be, don’t neglect your own well-being. The health of your teeth and gums is even more important during pregnancy. Keep up with your dental care during pregnancy to ensure your good health and that of your baby. Make an appointment today with Dr. Yolanda Cintron at the International Center for Dental Excellence to discuss any questions you may have.