Pregnancy is a crazy time, and there’s likely plenty on your mind! It’s easy to forget things like looking after your teeth and mouth, but pregnancy can both have huge effects on your gum and teeth health, and vice versa – your oral health can have effects on your pregnancy.
If you’re pregnant, especially in the early stages, be sure to tell your dentist as there are some medications and procedures that should be avoided or delayed. However, most dental procedures are safe during pregnancy, and some are even recommended, both for the health of the mother and the baby.
Some of the ways that pregnancy and dental health are related:
- Pregnancy gingivitis – this is extremely common in pregnant women. All those hormones floating around your body make your inflammatory response quite different to what it would normally be, and it’s very common to find that even if you’re brushing regularly and looking after yourself, your gums are sore, swollen, and may bleed. Getting a scale and clean will likely improve this, and preventive advice from your dentist about which oral pregnancy symptoms you’re having and how we can prevent them will help a lot!
- Morning sickness – is quite common especially in the first trimester of pregnancy, but all those strong stomach acids coming into your mouth can make your teeth sensitive, acid worn (the outside of the teeth is ‘eroded’ by the stomach acids) and increase their chance of decay. This is why checkups during pregnancy and early motherhood are so important – we can catch these issues early and prevent them, rather than wait until we need to do large fillings. If you’re suffering from morning sickness, try to have a rinse out with water afterwards to reduce the acidity in your mouth.
- Gum disease – having active gum disease in pregnancy is linked to premature and low birth weight babies, which isn’t ideal for the child’s development. Make sure you’re keeping up with your regular scale-and-cleans.
- Childhood decay – bub’s mouth is actually bacteria-free while you’re pregnant – they actually get their mouth bacteria from close contact with the mother after birth. So if mum has a lot of decay-causing bacteria, these are what ends up in the child’s system as well.
- It’s all a lot to take in! Want to talk to a dentist about it? Book in for a checkup and clean, and we can talk you through the finer details – every pregnancy is different, and the best way to tailor your advice is to have a chat and a look in your mouth.
Dental treatment in pregnancy:
- Most routine dental procedures are safe during pregnancy. Generally, if dental treatment needs to be done in pregnancy, the safest and most comfortable time to do it is the second trimester. If you haven’t had a clean before your pregnancy, it is highly recommended to get one to reduce the chances of passing bad bacteria on to the baby, and to avoid the risk of premature and low-birth-weight births.
- Some expecting mothers find pregnancy is the best time to get your dental health in tip top shape – not only is it a high risk time, but once bub comes along it can be easy to spend so much time focussing on the baby that you forget to look after yourself! You may find it easiest to have the appointments booked ahead of time so you won’t forget later on.
Are dental x-rays safe in pregnancy?
- Dental x-rays are extremely low in radiation, especially in our clinic as we have digital x-rays – the small ones have an equivalent amount of radiation to about 2 bananas, or half an hour of background radiation (the radiation we are all exposed to all the time).
- However, even though dental x-rays are extremely low radiation and do not generally affect the pelvic area, we tend to avoid routine x-rays during pregnancy, just in case.
- Sometimes, a dental x-ray is necessary to diagnose a problem or to get you out of pain – in this case we have to consider the risks and benefits – an x-ray is extremely low risk, but an untreated infection or stress from dental pain can lead to more risk for both you and the baby. In cases such as this we may recommend an x-ray to properly diagnose and treat you.
Once I have the baby, when should I get their first checkup?
- When they have teeth! This way, you, your child and your dentist can work together to ensure your child is set up with the right habits, and identify and prevent any early problems before they happen.
Good luck, don’t forget to look after yourself, and let us know if you have any more questions by using our enquiry form, or call and make an appointment with us.