More than half of pregnant women do not get dental exams, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). There’s likely one main reason why these mothers-to-be drag their feet about taking care of their teeth and gums: An overwhelming concern that dental treatment could harm their unborn babies. In fact, the opposite is true – not taking care of your teeth is what could harm your baby and you.
Expectant mothers have a lot on their plate, so it can be easy to let regular dental visits slide when you have nesting to do. But it’s especially necessary to maintain oral health during pregnancy. The health of your mouth can affect the rest of your well-being. Any mom-to-be should be hyperaware of how her actions are impacting her baby.
Hormones and Dental Health
Pregnant women are more prone to developing swollen gums because of increased hormone levels which means food can become more easily trapped, increasing the risks of irritation and infection. Even if your mouth feels fine now, keeping up with twice-a-year preventative visits to the dentist can allow your hygienist to remove plaque build-up and tartar and your dentist to do an exam to ensure that other problems are not developing or festering. The ACOG reports that about 40 percent of expectant mothers have some sort of dental health concern, like untreated tooth decay or gum infections.
Dental Treatment for Pregnant Women
If your dentist does discover an oral health problem, together you can determine the best course of action. Chances are, most treatments can wait until after baby is born. If something absolutely must be done, the second trimester is the safest time to undergo treatment. Depending on the situation, it is sometimes better to get dental work done than risk infection and, potentially, induce early labor.
X-rays are best avoided throughout the entire pregnancy, but if you must have one to determine the cause of severe pain, it helps to know that the radiation level of dental X-rays is very low.
Cosmetic dentistry can wait until after delivery. Your baby isn’t going to notice whether your teeth need to be whitened or could benefit from a set of porcelain veneers. But once baby has arrived, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t treat yourself to a feel-good smile makeover!
In Pregnancy and In Health
Ready for your next dental visit? Contact Red Bank Dentistry to schedule your free initial consultation and get a customized treatment plan just for your smile. Pregnant women should always check with their ob/gyn before undergoing any sort of dental treatment.