Dental treatment is necessary at every single stage of your life, even when you are growing new life. Most dental treatments can continue as normal during pregnancy, but there will be some minor changes. There are also some caveats and general recommendations you should be aware of.
Let Your Dentist Know
Even though your dental treatment is mostly the same, there are a few minor changes that are important enough for your dentist to know. As such, you should let Dr. Dhiraj Sharma know if you are pregnant during a dental checkup.
While that is important for regular cleanings and checkups, it becomes more important for any dental procedures or prescribed medications.
The Ideal Time for a Cleaning or Treatment
According to experts at the MayoClinic, the ideal time for any elective dental treatment will be between pregnancy weeks 14 and 20, during your second trimester. That said, most women can have dental procedures done at any point during their pregnancy.
Immediate Treatments May Be Necessary
The fact that you can be treated at any time during pregnancy is especially important in the case of any oral health issues that require immediate attention. For example, Dr. Sharma will want to immediately treat any potential dental infection and may do the same with swelling.
Some of the medications your dentist typically prescribes for patients are not recommended for use in pregnant women. This depends entirely on the medicine in question, and many are safe for you and your baby. That is why it is important to let your dentist know that you are pregnant.
In some cases, your dentist may have to weigh the risks to your baby from taking a particular medication compared to the risks of leaving a dental condition untreated. For example, in the case of a dental infection, you should expect to take medication. Still, Dr. Sharma will choose something safe for the baby.
Most dental treatment regarding fillings is perfectly safe to do during pregnancy, except for anything involving fillings that contain mercury. The FDA officially recommends using non-mercury fillings on anyone pregnant or even planning on being pregnant. This comes down to the risks of mercury exposure.
However, if you already have a filling that contains mercury, you don’t have to worry about taking any action unless required for your overall health. That is because removing may temporarily cause mercury vapor exposure.
You do not have to delay any emergency treatments on your mouth during pregnancy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Dental Association agree that extractions, restorations, and root canals are all safe for pregnant women.
More importantly, those experts agree that putting off the treatment due to pregnancy could result in the issues getting worse. As such, they recommend going ahead with planned treatments.
It is safe to use local anesthetics on pregnant women as long as they contain epinephrine. Just some of the approved anesthetics in this classification include lidocaine, mepivacaine, and bupivacaine.
Even having dental X-rays or radiographs taken during pregnancy is safe. Of course, expect your dentist to take appropriate precautions, including carefully using the appropriate radiology aprons or shields.
Oral Health Conditions That Commonly Occur During Pregnancy
In addition to the normal dental treatment that you can safely receive during pregnancy, there may be some unique concerns. Pregnant women should be aware that they have a higher risk of a few conditions.
Cavities or dental caries can have a higher risk in pregnancy due to a combination of factors. Some of this comes from the tendency of women to eat more sugar and sugary foods when pregnant.
Nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness can also play a role. Vomiting increases your mouth’s acidity, which encourages cavities to form. Vomiting can also cause oral hygiene issues. Dry mouth during pregnancy can also be problematic as saliva helps prevent cavities.
Vomiting can also lead to tooth erosion. You can reduce this risk by waiting to brush after vomiting instead of doing so right away.
The hormonal changes from pregnancy can mean that the bacteria in your gum tissue cause more problems. This can lead to a higher risk of gingivitis than in non-pregnant people.
In fact, up to 50% of all pregnant women will develop pregnancy gingivitis. It is more common when you are two to eight months pregnant and should disappear after giving birth.
Granuloma Gravidarum (or Pyogenic Granuloma)
These are two different names for the same dental condition. It is a round growth that can develop due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. A thin tissue cord typically connects it to your gingivae.
Extra Dental Tips for Pregnant Women
Given the additional dental considerations that can set in during pregnancy, there are a few tips that pregnant women should keep in mind.
Don’t Brush Right After Vomiting
Although it is counterintuitive, you shouldn’t brush your teeth right after vomiting from morning sickness. Doing so will increase your teeth’s exposure to your stomach acids. Instead, mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water. Rinse your mouth with this solution, as it will neutralize the acid in your mouth.
Regular Oral Hygiene Is Even More Important
The higher risk of both cavities and gingivitis means that pregnant women need to be extra diligent about staying on top of their regular oral hygiene habits. This includes brushing twice daily, using toothpaste with fluoride, and flossing.
What If Brushing Makes You Gag?
Some pregnant women gag incredibly easily, including when brushing their teeth. If this happens to you, you may need to make a few adjustments. Do whatever you can to ensure brushing is still part of your routine.
You can try swapping your toothbrush out for one with a smaller head or using a different flavor of toothpaste. You can also try brushing at a different time. Some women also find it better to swish and spit and then return and brush.
The most important thing to remember about dental care and treatment during pregnancy is to let your dentist know you are pregnant, but you should not expect any major changes to your treatment.
If you are pregnant, give us a call before your regular dental cleaning in Chicago, and we will make sure you and your teeth are taken care of!