How Pregnancy Affects Teeth & Your Dental Health
A woman’s body undergoes plenty of changes during pregnancy requiring extra care and nourishment. The surge of hormones affects the skin, hair, and even moods! What few women understand however, is that their dental health could also suffer if not given the attention it deserves.
Like most parts of the body, the teeth is extra sensitive during pregnancy making it all the more important to check in with your dentist.
Why is dental health important during pregnancy?
Any existing problems with your oral health will be aggravated by the hormonal imbalance during pregnancy. You are more prone to developing tooth decay, gingivitis, and other dental issues. These can have an impact on your overall health during pregnancy, which in turn can affect the baby’s health.
It’s a common misconception that dental procedures, including dental checkups, should not be carried out during pregnancy because they can be harmful or cause discomfort to a pregnant woman. This is simply not true. In fact, it is advisable to visit your dentist regularly even while expecting to help prevent any dental problems. Dentists know exactly which procedures are safe and which medications are not harmful to pregnant mothers and their babies so there is really no need to worry.
Which dental procedures are safe?
It is strongly advised that you stick to your schedule of regular dental check-ups even when you are pregnant. Your dentist will advise you if additional appointments are needed. Below are the dental procedures that are safe to conduct on pregnant women:
Although dentists prefer saving a tooth over extractions, your tooth may need to be removed if it’s badly damaged by decay — a severely decayed tooth may risk your gums and other teeth. Tooth extractions are mostly recommended during the second trimester but can be still performed anytime during the pregnancy if required.
In a root canal procedure, nerve ending tissues infected by tooth decay are removed and restored to avoid extraction. It can be safely performed on pregnant women especially during the second trimester to stop the pain that may cause discomfort.
Dental cleanings are not only safe but are highly recommended by dentists to prevent the build-up of cavities and plaques that can cause infection.
Cavity filling and Crown
Tooth fillings and crown placement are necessary measures to prevent infection from spreading in your teeth. These dental procedures will take some time and may result in a little discomfort that is not ideal for pregnant women in their first and third trimester.
Procedures like tooth extraction may require x-rays. Contrary to common belief, x-rays are safe to perform, especially during emergency situations. Dental x-rays use a very small amount of radiation which is not strong enough to cause any harm on the baby’s development. Dentists and dental technicians will also use tools like a thyroid guard and a lead apron to add protection for the baby.
A requirement in most dental procedures to numb the pain, anaesthesia is safe for pregnant women as long as the appropriate dosage for the procedure is administered, and as long as they do not contain felypressin. Make sure to inform your dentists right away about your pregnancy so the correct type of anaesthetic will be used.
Although these procedures are safe during pregnancy, your dentist will likely postpone them until after you’ve given birth to avoid any complications — unless it’s an absolute emergency.
Do’s and don’ts
To avoid emergency dental procedures during pregnancy, here are some oral care practices that you should observe before and during the period:
Avoid sugary foods
Food cravings are common among pregnant women, especially cravings for sugary food like cakes, chocolates, and ice cream. These will not do your teeth any good at all. See if you can swap these foods with fruits, yogurt, and other healthier kinds of sweets. Stick to a balanced diet to keep yourself and your baby nourished with important vitamins and minerals.
Refrain from brushing your teeth after vomiting
During the first three months of pregnancy, vomiting will likely be an annoying but mostly harmless part of your day. Vomit contains acid from your stomach that can soften the outer layer of your teeth. Don’t make the damage worse by brushing immediately after vomiting. Instead, wash away the acid by gargling water and chewing sugar-free gums.
Postpone elective procedures
Whitening procedures and or having braces installed are great for your teeth in the long run but they can wait until you have given birth. These procedures take some time and may cause discomfort to you and your baby.
Inform your dentist that you are pregnant
In any case that you need to have an emergency dental procedure performed, inform your dentist right away about your pregnancy. This will help the dentist find the best way to avoid any pregnancy-related risks, and keep you safe and comfortable during the procedure.
Maintain proper oral hygiene
Brushing and flossing should never be removed from your daily routine even when you are pregnant. This will help keep your teeth free of infections that will cause harm to your overall dental health. However, due to hormonal spikes during pregnancy, your gums might get swollen and extra sensitive to toothbrush bristles and dental floss. Remember to brush and floss more lightly during this period, and find a toothbrush with soft bristles.
If you want to know more about dental health and pregnancy, call us at Pymble Dental on (02) 9488 7676and our family-friendly dental professionals will help you.
Make an appointment to ensure your dental health without risking your safety as well as your baby’s.