Dental Tips for Women During Pregnancy
Oral health is directly related to good overall health, says holistic dentist Jason Jones.
One important task for expectant mothers between visiting the OBGYN and preparing the nursery is a dental visit. Not only do they need to keep their teeth clean and checked, women can also make sure their teeth are safe from painful scenarios to avoid during pregnancy; a crucial time because oral health is directly related to good overall health.
Even if a woman thinks she might be pregnant, she should let the dentist know. Be sure to inform the office how far the pregnancy has progressed and list any medications or special precautions that have been instructed. If she is considered to be at high risk or has medical conditions, a dentist or physician may recommend dental treatment to be postponed.
Although most women go through pregnancy with no dental issues, pregnancy can worsen conditions and even create new ones. Hormonal changes can cause bleeding or swollen and tender gums, known as “pregnancy gingivitis”. If left untreated, a more serious form of gum disease may develop. More frequent cleanings will prevent further harm.
Tissue overgrowth, or “pregnancy tumors”, may appear, most often during the second trimester. This is not cancer, but rather swollen gum tissue, often between teeth, related to plaque. It usually resolves after delivery, but talk to the dentist about removing them.
The risk of cavities increases as more carbohydrates are taken in, as well as morning sickness that allows acid exposure that can eat away at tooth structure, along with increased gag reflex, tender gums and exhaustion that may interfere with normal hygiene habits, resulting in cavities. It is imperative to maintain a healthy dental routine. Poor dental habits have been associated with premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
Be sure both prescription and over-the-counter medications are known by the dentist, as this information will help the dentist determine proper medications, if needed. The dentist may need to consult with the physician to ensure a safe distribution of medications and minimize undesirable interactions. Both the physician and dentist are concerned about mother and baby, so bring up any questions or concerns about other medications at this time.
If dental treatment is necessary, the timing of treatment will be determined by the dentist and physician to make sure the anesthetics and treatment are safe for both the woman and child. X-rays should be avoided unless it is absolutely necessary for a proper diagnosis. Although the radiation is low, the dental office will cover the upper body and neck with a leaded apron to minimize exposure to the abdomen and thyroid.
Most of all, don’t forget to brush after each meal and floss daily.
Jason A. Jones, DMD, is the owner of Pure Smiles Center for Advanced Dentistry in Scottsdale. For more information, phone 480-585-1612 or visit PureSmilesAz.com.