Dental care is not likely to be at the top of an expectant mother's busy mind. Most mothers-to-be, however, are happy to do most anything if it reduces the health risks to their unborn child.
Should you go to the dentist? You are not alone in wondering if a dental appointment is necessary, since about one-third of women in the United States meet with their dentist while pregnant, according to General Dentistry, May/June 2010.
However, hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect the health of the mother's mouth; gingivitis is the most common disease. Another condition, enamel erosion might occur. It can be brought on by morning sickness, bringing higher levels of acid into your oral cavity.
Should oral care be avoided during pregnancy?
To start, inform your dentist that you are pregnant, so he or she can help you avoid the common or most worrisome oral health issues.
Should pregnant women have dental x-rays?
One of the important issues pregnant women should know about dental visits is that x-rays should be avoided, if possible. According to the American Dental Association,
'A radiograph may be needed for dental treatment or a dental emergency that can't wait until after the baby is born. Untreated dental infections can pose a risk to the fetus, and dental treatment may be necessary to maintain the health of the mother and child.'
In these instances, getting x-rays may be necessary, and the risks may be acceptable.
What regular and special dental treatments are acceptable?
When considering whether to get oral health care during pregnancy, consider the necessity, risks and timing of any treatments:
Reduce the risks of infections by having cavity fillings or crown work, when necessary.
An ideal period for more invasive treatments is during the second trimester. Afterward, it is more difficult for many women to lie back or be still for long time periods.
Postpone cosmetic treatments and other electric treatments, including whitening and implants. Avoid them and other potentially risky procedures until mandatory, or after the baby's birth.
Ask for advice about any medications. Studies about commonly used medications report conflicting results, however, lidocaine seems to be acceptable. It does not cross into the placenta, an important organ connecting mother and her fetus, so it may be a safe option.
A good general resource for pregnant women, or for women thinking about starting a family, is the website of the American Pregnancy Association. It offers a wide range of information, from ovulation calendars to planning and preparation to wellness care and also post pregnancy concerns.
Of course, you should eat a balanced diet and brush your teeth regularly. Taking care of your teeth during your pregnancy helps prevent your unborn child from being exposed to harmful bacterial infections.