Prenatal Dental Health
It is important to continue regular dental visits during your pregnancy. This ensures not only the health of your teeth and gums, but your overall health and your baby's health as well.
While pregnancy does not cause tooth loss - tooth decay does. The tooth decay process begins when harmful bacteria (plaque) is formed on the teeth from sugars and starches found in most foods and beverages. These constant "attacks" on the teeth cause tooth decay.
The tooth can be "attacked" by these harmful sugar and starch acids for up to 20 minutes after consumption. Snacking on sugar-rich foods and beverages throughout the day only prolong these attacks on your teeth. You can take simple steps to help avoid tooth decay, such as brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day to remove food particles lodged between the teeth and maintaining a well-balanced diet.
Plaque that remains on the teeth for long periods of time only irritates the gums causing inflammation and tenderness, often times causing the gums to bleed. This condition is know as gingivitis, which can lead to periodontal disease, a serious disease that affects the gums and bones that hold the teeth in place.
Women who have had healthy gums and teeth prior to their pregnancy may experience swelling, inflammation and bleeding gums during pregnancy. This condition is often referred to as "pregnancy gingivitis." It is a result of constantly changing hormone levels as well as an increased amount of progesterone. This increase in hormones can amplify how the gums react to irritants in plaque. Pregnancy gingivitis can appear as early as the first trimester.
Dental Care for Pregnant Women
Maintaining a proper oral hygiene regimen, paying close attention to the gum line, and visiting your dentist regularly will help prevent gingivitis. It may also be necessary that you visit your dentist more regularly during your pregnancy to help control gingivitis.
We take special care of our expecting mothers and take every precaution necessary to ensure the health of you and your baby. Routine dental examinations are recommended during pregnancy to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums. X-rays are occasionally necessary for dental treatment or a dental emergency that cannot wait till after the baby is born. While radiation from dental X-rays are very low we assure you, we take every precaution necessary to minimize radiation exposure. We utilize a lead apron and collar that covers the abdomen and thyroid during the X-ray to minimize radiation exposure.
Non-emergency dental treatment usually can be performed safely during your pregnancy, but it may be recommended to postpone elective treatments, such as veneers, until after the first trimester is complete. Please inform us of any medical conditions you may have, as well as if you have experienced past miscarriages or at a high risk of miscarriage, as dental treatment my need to be delayed.
If you have a history of delivering prematurely, dental treatment my need to be avoided during the last months of pregnancy since sitting in the dental chair for extended periods of time my be uncomfortable. Keeping you and your baby's health in mind, we recommend receiving treatment between the fourth and sixth month of pregnancy.
Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Smile During Pregnancy
These are some tips to not only ensure the health of your teeth and gums, but your baby's overall health as well:
- Brush thoroughly with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.
- Floss once a day.
- Maintain a balanced, nutritious diet, choosing foods rich in vitamins A, C, D, protein, calcium and phosphorus.
- Use moderation while snacking.
- Maintain regular dental visits.