Why should I continue dental care during pregnancy?
Dental care during pregnancy is particularly important, because any infection could cause increased risk to the fetus. Women with infections in their teeth or gums are more likely to have premature or low birthweight babies. The American Dental Association (ADA), American Pregnancy Association, and the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health all recommend seeking dental care during pregnancy, and consider it safe.
Certain pregnancy symptoms make women more vulnerable to decay and gum disease:
- Pregnancy gingivitis: increased hormones cause bacteria growth in your gums and teeth
- Vomiting: frequent vomiting can wear down the enamel on your teeth and leave them vulnerable to decay
- Sensitive gag reflex and bleeding gums: may deter thorough brushing and flossing
- Pregnancy Tumors: non-cancerous growths on your gums that appear in some women during the second trimester
What precautions should I take when planning dental care during pregnancy?
You should let your dentist know that you are pregnant, as well as any medications you are currently taking. Also, when taking x-rays, wear the lead shield to protect yourself and the baby. The ADA and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) both approve x-rays during pregnancy with proper shielding. If you are concerned, you can always ask to delay routine x-rays until after delivery. Additionally, avoid long procedures during the third trimester, as it can be difficult and dangerous to lay for long periods on your back.
What dental care should I avoid during pregnancy?
- Postpone elective cosmetic procedures (i.e. teeth whitening, cosmetic crowns) until after delivery
- Non-emergency or non-urgent dental procedures
Can I take medication for procedures during pregnancy?
Lidocaine, used for numbing during procedures, is a Category B drug, which does cross the placenta after being administered. However, researchers proved that Lidocaine caused no increased risk to the pregnancy in a study done in August of 2015. There are several antibiotics (also Category B) approved for preventing or treating infections. The most common and tested antibiotics are Penicillin, Amoxicillin, and Clindamycin.
Suggestions for your dental visit:
- Bring a small pillow to support your back and make the dental chair more comfortable
- Keep your legs uncrossed to improve circulation
- Bring headphones and calming music to reduce anxiety and keep stress on you and the baby low