Should I see a dentist when pregnant?
It's is very important to see a dentist when you're pregnant to maintain the health of your teeth & gums.
During your pregnancy as well as for some time after, you may notice changes in the health of your gums and teeth.
It is important to take more notice of your dental health and book frequent visits with a dentist, as your body enters unknown territories which can include -morning sickness, anaemia or overwhelming fatigue. Even after pregnancy, the fatigue of looking after a young family may get in the way of a perfect dental routine.
Some myths that you may have heard of are:
Myth – Gums always bleed during pregnancy
Hormonal changes in pregnancy can lead to an exaggerated response to bacteria and plaque. For some women the plaque can build up quicker on teeth. If plaque isn’t removed, it can cause gingivitis and if left can lead into Gum Disease also known as periodontal disease which affects the jaw bone. Gingivitis starts off with swelling and bleeding of the gums.
Myth – A tooth ache should be dealt with in the second trimester
The second trimester remains the ideal time to have a toothache seen to. It is not the only time though, especially if you are in pain or there is infection. Pregnant or not deal with dental emergencies immediately. You do not want infection to harm your baby.
Myth - You Lose Calcium From Teeth During Pregnancy
Your baby gets calcium from your diet, just as you do. If dietary calcium runs short, it comes from reserves in your bones, not your teeth. Eat your greens, legumes and dairy products, and consult a physician about nutrition.
Myth – Losing a tooth for every child
Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the gum tissue that supports your teeth. The bacteria thrive in the gap between the gum and your tooth, causing the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissues to break down and tooth loss can occur.
Myth – There is no need to see a dentist if I can’t see or feel anything wrong
Just because you teeth look fine doesn’t mean they are fine. Some cavities do a pretty good job of going unnoticed. Assuming that everything’s fine just because you can’t seem to see or feel anything wrong is very dangerous and can get very expensive very quickly. One thing to remember a lot of dental issues start off being painless, when you get pain it is sometimes too late. By not seeing your dentist regularly, you risk developing serious dental problems.
Myth – My oral hygiene will not affect my baby
Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. Research is still ongoing but appears that periodontal disease triggers increased levels of biological fluids in the body that can induce labour. Several early studies have found that treating periodontal disease during pregnancy may significantly reduce the risks of premature birth.
Even if there is no pain, as is most often the case in gum disease, it has been demonstrated in a number of studies that an infection such as periodontal disease is a risk factor for premature birth.
What about X-rays?
Yes - it is safe to have dental X-rays with a special lead apron but unless absolutely necessary we usually wait until after the pregnancy.
Things to think about and practice before during and after your pregnancy:
The Australian Dental Association recommends that women continue with their regular dental visits during and after their pregnancies to ensure that you maintain good oral hygiene. It also assures expectant mothers that, when dental treatment is required during pregnancy, this can be done safely. Regular 3-6 month dental visits will help ensure healthy oral hygiene.
Nutrition – Having a healthy well balanced diet with plenty of protein, calcium, vitamins A, C and D, fruit and vegetables.
Brushing & flossing twice a day using a soft toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride.
Pregnancy should be an exciting time, but it won’t be if you are experiencing tooth aches or gum problems, seeing your dentist before during and after your pregnancy, and especially if you are experiencing any discomfort will help ensure you have an enjoyable pregnancy.
It is important for everyone to have regular dental check-ups and cleans to maintain good oral hygiene. It is best to see your dentist prior to falling pregnant as you can do any necessary dental treatment then. If you are already pregnant or suspect you may be, make an appointment to see your dentist so you and your baby can get off to a good start.