By Dr. Matthew Mangino
It is recommended to see a dentist before, during, and after pregnancy. It is important to maintain a healthy mouth during pregnancy because hormonal changes can increase the risk of developing dental health issues. The dentist and dental hygienist will help in making the best decisions in keeping you and your mouth healthy.
If you are planning to have a baby, it is important to make a dental appointment to have a professional cleaning and a thorough examination of the mouth. This ensures that any dental issues, such as gum disease or tooth decay, can be treated before becoming pregnant. The dentist should be informed of pregnancy before appointments as a precautionary measure. Dental appointments during the first trimester and the second half of the third trimester should be avoided if possible. The best time for routine dental care is during the second trimester and all elective dental treatment should be postponed until after delivery. Be sure to inform the dentist of any medication, including prenatal vitamins, and any specific medical instructions given by the OBGYN.
Another appointment for a cleaning and exam should be done during pregnancy as well as right after delivery. Do not skip dental appointments because of pregnancy. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase the risk of developing gum disease which causes the gums to become tender, swollen, and to bleed easily. Good oral hygiene habits at home can help to decrease the effects of gum disease. If morning sickness causes problems with brushing then it is important to change to bland-tasting toothpaste. Brushing after having morning sickness is damaging to the teeth, instead, rinse with water or mouthwash and allow 30 minutes before brushing. It is important to also avoid sugary snacks to lessen the risk of developing tooth decay and try to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
There are times that dental treatment is considered an emergency and must be done during pregnancy. If dental work is needed, the amount of dental anesthesia administered should be as little as possible, but still enough to make the mother comfortable. Sometimes antibiotics are required for infections in the mouth and there are several that can be prescribed that are safe to take during pregnancy. If any treatment can be postponed it should be, however sometimes the risk of treatment is less than the risk of leaving infection in the mouth. Tooth whitening and other cosmetic procedures should be postponed until after delivery. Routine dental x-rays are also postponed until after delivery, however, in an emergency situation an x-rays may be needed to perform a dental procedure. If possible this should be done during the second trimester.
Maintaining healthy teeth and gums while pregnant through regular preventative dental check-ups is an important step in avoiding oral infections and making sure the baby is healthy. Never hesitate to talk to the dentist or dental hygienist about any concerns or questions regarding the health of the mouth and how it relates to the development of the baby. Dentist and dental hygienist are there to help make the best decisions for a healthy and safe pregnancy.
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