How Does Pregnancy Affect Oral Health?

How Does Pregnancy Affect Your Oral Health?

As you know, women’s bodies undergo many changes during pregnancy - one of which is an increase in hormones, especially during the second trimester of pregnancy. This causes an increase in blood flow to the gums, making it much easier for them to get swollen, red and irritated. This is what we refer to as “gingivitis”. A common misconception regarding pregnancy is that it causes cavities because the developing baby takes the calcium from the mother’s body. Pregnancy itself does not cause cavities. However, existing cavities or gum disease can both be worsened by pregnancy. For example, hormonal changes can make the teeth and gums more sensitive, leading to less brushing and flossing, an increase in bacteria-filled plaque buildup, and an eventual worsening of pre-existing gum disease and decay. Vomiting from morning sickness can cause acid erosion of the teeth, worsening wear and decay. Swishing with a solution containing baking soda after vomiting can help neutralize the acid and prevent tooth damage. The best way to prevent oral health problems during pregnancy is to continue with good home care, by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.


Is It Safe For Pregnant Patients To Have X-Rays?

In the past, pregnant patients have been cautioned against getting x-rays while pregnant, except for in emergency situations. More recent studies have found that dental x-rays provide very little risk to the developing baby. Lead aprons are used to cover the neck, chest and abdomen while taking x-rays. Radiation cannot pass through the lead, protecting the patient’s vital organs, as well as a developing fetus. Many offices have converted to digital x-ray systems, which emit even less radiation than the older film types. In fact, it has been found that we get more radiation from objects we encounter every day than from a full set of dental x-rays!


Radiation comparison

Is It Safe For Pregnant Patients To Have Dental Treatment?

Previously, it had been recommended that dental treatment only be completed in the second trimester of pregnancy and limited to more emergency-based treatment. It was believed that dental anesthetics could cause harm to the fetus during the first trimester. A recent study has shown that women receiving local anesthesia at any point during pregnancy did not show an increased rate of either birth defects or miscarriage; however, your dentist should still use caution with the types and quantities of local anesthetics he, or she, uses. If dental treatment is needed toward the end of a pregnancy, it may be preferable to delay treatment until after the baby is born. Nitrous Oxide (“Laughing gas”) and IV sedation cannot be used on pregnant patients, so some patients may elect to wait until after delivery to have certain procedures completed, such as extractions. Emergency dental treatment is indicated at any point during pregnancy, as stress from the mother can also cause problems for the baby. More often than not, the benefits of treating pregnant patients outweigh the risks.

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