Thinking About Having a Baby, or Recently Pregnant?
When you’re planning a family, visiting the dentist may not be at the top of your priority list. However, if you’re thinking about having a baby or are recently pregnant, a dental cleaning and check-up is best done sooner rather than later.
Good oral health is a component of good overall health, both for you and for your baby…
And the good news is, dental care is safe and essential during pregnancy.
Below are answers to common questions about dental treatment and pregnancy, as well as oral care tips for pregnant women.
Don’t forget to come see us during this crazy, chaotic time!
Regular Visits to Monitor Pregnancy Gingivitis
Increase in hormones during pregnancy increases blood flow to the gums, which can cause swelling and tenderness. It can also cause “pregnancy gingivitis,” caused by an exaggerated response to plaque on a pregnant woman’s teeth. If ignored, this can lead to periodontitis, an active and destructive disease of the gums. The American Dental Association cites research linking premature birth and low birth rate to women with periodontitis. Regular dental visits during pregnancy and a strict hygiene regimen can prevent this disease. Often, we will recommend an extra hygiene visit to monitor the tissues, gums, and teeth while pregnant, or even soon before the baby is born (because for a time after, it may be hard to make it to your regularly scheduled appointment!).
Dental Procedures While Pregnant
When needed, dental work should and can be completed during pregnancy to reduce the chance of infection. This includes fillings, crowns, root canals, and extractions. The second trimester is the ideal time for treatment, since one you reach the third trimester, it may be difficult to lie on your back for an extended time.
Lidocaine is the most commonly used local anesthetic in dentistry. Lidocaine (2% with epinephrine) is a Pregnancy Category B drug, meaning there is no evidence of risk in humans, and is safe to use during pregnancy. Keeping this in mind, however, we use as little anesthetic as possible, still ensuring comfort, while minimizing any potential risk. Could we skip the numbing? Yes, but discomfort leads to stress, not only on the patient, but also on the baby.
Sometimes, an antibiotic is prudent to treat active infection before some dental procedures. Penicillin, Amoxicillin, Cephalosporin, and Clindamycin are all Category B drugs, and safe to take while pregnant. As far as treating pain, Tylenol (Acetaminophen) is also Category B, and is safe.
X-Rays and Radiation
Routine x-rays can be postponed until after the birth. However, x-rays are necessary when performing many dental procedures. According to the American College of Radiology, no single diagnostic x-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus.
Fetal organ development occurs during the first trimester, thus it is best to wait until after this time to get x-rays, unless in a true emergency situation (extreme pain, swelling, trauma, etc.). At NFD, we utilize digital radiography, which emits 80-90% less radiation than traditional films. We use lead aprons to shield the body and thyroid from the x-rays.
If you suffer from morning sickness, acidic destruction of your teeth can be a concern. If you are sick, rinse your mouth with water (or mouthrinse mixed with water) afterwards, and wait 20-30 minutes before brushing your teeth to avoid, literally, scrubbing the acid onto your teeth.
And, as always, we are truly committed to your health at Northstar and would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have!