Dental Safety During Pregnancy
Nicola Monteath speaks to Kate Telep, Dental Hygienist at Dr. Roze & Associates Dental Clinic to explore the significance of dental procedures during pregnancy
There are times when dental work is urgent – there’s nothing worse than root canal pain – and there are times when a cavity is left unattended due to lack of time. It isn’t ideal for any situation, however, is even worse for pregnant women. “Preventive dental cleaning and regular check-ups during pregnancy are not only safe but are recommended. Hormone changes during pregnancy can make the gums swell, bleed and trap food causing increased irritation to your gums and making you more prone to developing tooth decay or gum disease,” says Kate Telep, Dental Hygienist at Dr. Roze & Associates Dental Clinic. Your dental health has an impact on your overall wellbeing, which has a major influence on the health of your unborn baby, so
it is important keep your oral health in check throughout your pregnancy. “The first 13 weeks of pregnancy is when most of a baby’s major organs develop. During this period, it is recommended to only have a dental check-up and routine cleaning,” says Kate. If you do require a dental emergency, see your dentist immediately and inform them about your pregnancy to enable them to make an informed decision on all required treatment. Dental work, such as cavity fillings and crowns, should be treated to reduce the chance of infection. “If you already follow a good oral hygiene routine – brushing your teeth twice-a- day and flossing daily – it is less likely you will require any dental procedures while pregnant. As well as regular brushing and flossing, you should try to avoid acting on unhealthy cravings,” she says. Kate suggests avoiding brushing your teeth straight after a bout of morning sickness, simply because the acid from the stomach can cause dental erosion and increase the risk of tooth decay by dissolving tooth enamel. Instead, she recommends rinsing with water and brushing 30 minutes later.
If dental work is required during pregnancy, and you can put it off for a bit, she highly recommends doing the procedure during the second trimester. “If you require a dental procedure while pregnant, the amount of anesthesia administered should be as little as possible, but still enough to make you comfortable. If you are experiencing pain, request additional numbing. When you are comfortable, the amount of stress on you and the baby is reduced,” says Kate.
As for a routine x-ray, one of the most common concerns pregnant women have due to exposure to radiation from x-rays, it is best left postponed until after the birth. “It is important to note that modern dental x-rays use very low doses of radiation, no single diagnostic x-ray contains a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects to the development of the fetus. A dentist will always ensure your baby is shielded from the radiation by using a lead apron and thyroid guard,” she says. Although x-rays are safe, your dentist may still recommend avoiding them during the first trimester, knowing this is the most vulnerable time of development.
Is there anything else that should be avoided or postponed until after the birth? “Yes, elective treatments such as teeth whitening, and similar cosmetic procedures. It is best to avoid exposing baby to any risks, even if they are very minimal,” she goes on to say.