Good oral health is an important part of your overall wellbeing, which is critical during pregnancy
4 July 2019| Last updated on 8 July 2019
By paying attention to your oral hygiene and eating habits, you can go a long way towards keeping your mouth healthy.
Your dentist can also help you take care of your teeth and gums during this time.
How does pregnancy affect your mouth??
During pregnancy, several oral health conditions are quite common. Regular checkups and good oral health habits can keep you and your baby healthy.
Pregnancy gingivitis may result from hormonal changes that exaggerate the response to bacteria in the gum tissue. It is an inflammation of the gums that can cause swelling and tenderness. Your gums may also bleed a little when you brush or floss. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious forms of gum disease. Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings to prevent this.
Dental caries may occur due to changes in diet such as increased snacking due to cravings, increased acidity in the mouth caused by vomiting due to morning sickness, dry mouth or poor oral hygiene. It’s especially important to keep up to your routine oral hygiene, as poor habits during pregnancy have been associated with premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Talk to your dentist about the routine you need to follow.
Pyogenic granuloma occurs most often during the second trimester and may develop due to hormonal changes. It is a soft tissue growth/swelling that happens most often between teeth, generally related to excess plaque. It can bleed easily and has a red, raw-looking raspberry like appearance. It usually disappears after your baby is born.
Erosion due to vomiting as a result of morning sickness can eat away the enamel of your tooth. Avoid brushing your teeth immediately; instead, first swish and spit. You could use water, a diluted mouth rinse (containing chlorhexidine/xylitol/cetylpyridinium chloride) or a mix of one cup of water to one tsp of baking soda. Spit it out and brush your teeth about 30 minutes later.
Suggestions for addressing your pregnancy and dental work needs
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends pregnant women eat a balanced diet, brush their teeth thoroughly with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and use interdental aids to clean in between the teeth.
Dental procedures during pregnancy
Dental procedures like cavity fillings, cleanings and crowns are considered safe according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). If dental work is done during pregnancy, the second trimester is ideal. Once you reach the third trimester, it may be difficult to lie on your back for an extended period of time.
The safest course of action would be to postpone all unnecessary dental work until after the birth.
However sometimes emergency dental work, such as root canal or tooth extraction, may be necessary. Elective treatments, such as tooth whitening and other cosmetic procedures, should be postponed until after delivery.
Medications used during dental procedures
Questions about the local anaesthetics or antibiotics used in dentistry are common. Options considered safe for use in these situations include:
Lidocaine (used as local anaesthetic) with or without epinephrine is most commonly used and is well documented and approved during pregnancy and prescribed during pregnancy.
If dental work is needed, the amount of anaesthesia administered should be as little as possible, but still enough to make you comfortable. When you are comfortable, the amount of stress on you and the baby is reduced. Also, the more comfortable you are, the easier it is for anaesthesia to work.
Dental procedures often require antibiotics and analgesics to prevent or treat infections. Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, clindamycin, cephalosporins or metronidazole may be prescribed after your procedure.
Among the analgesics, acetaminophen is widely accepted for use during pregnancy. The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) is less favourable during pregnancy since drugs in this class have been shown to inhibit labour and to prolong the length of pregnancy. Medication for pain relief calls for consultation with the patient’s obstetrician to weigh the risks and benefits.
X-rays during pregnancy
Routine x-rays, typically taken during annual examination, can usually be postponed until after the birth. X-rays are necessary to perform many dental procedures like root canal treatment and extractions, especially emergencies. 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 fetus.
According to ADA and ACOG, having dental x-rays during your pregnancy is considered safe with appropriate shielding.
Some women may choose to avoid dental work during the first trimester knowing this is the most vulnerable time of fetal development. However, there is no evidence suggesting harm to the baby for those choosing to visit the dentist during this time frame.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your dental care during pregnancy, make your appointment by calling 04 282 7788 or 04 602 8999.
Authored by Dr. Vernie Fernandes
Mediclinic Welcare Hospital and Mediclinic Al Qusais
Dr. Vernie Fernandes
Mediclinic Welcare Hospital and Mediclinic Al Qusais