Why is it important for Pregnant Women to visit the Dentist?

During pregnancy a women’s body goes through hormonal changes, such as an increase in the progesterone hormone which in turn can cause gum diseases such as inflammation of the gums (pregnancy gingivitis), cause pregnancy tumors, and increase tooth decay. Inflammation of the gums and bone has also has been linked to preterm birth.
In order to prevent these conditions from happening it is extremely important for you as a pregnant woman to have regular Dental checkups with the Dentist and good dental health habits to keep you and the baby safe and healthy.
An increased level of Progesterone makes certain gingivitis causing bacteria more susceptible to grow around your gums. This will cause your gum tissue to swell and become tender. Gum disease mostly appears between the second and eighth month of Pregnancy. The first sign of knowing you have pregnancy gingivitis is when your gums become redder and start to bleed easily while brushing or flossing. If left untreated, this will cause more severe gum disease. A mother’s oral health during pregnancy is critical, as pregnant women may have increased risk of tooth decay because of increased carbohydrate consumption and difficulties brushing their teeth because of morning sickness, gag reflex and increased gum bleeding. When seeing a Dentist it is important to inform your Dentist that you are pregnant and to let him know how far along you are so he will be able to take the necessary precautions.
Additionally it is very important to tell the dentist what medications you are taking and any other condition your physician has told you. Letting the Dentist know all this information will help the Dentist make an informed treatment plan for you throughout pregnancy and will make your treatment much easier and smoother.

Dental Procedures are mostly safe while pregnant:
You can receive numerous treatments from the Dentist such as cleanings, fillings, crowns, and even root canal treatment to treat infections.
Having preventive cleanings is not only safe but also recommended. The ideal time to have dental work done is during the second trimester. During the third trimester it is much harder for women to lie on their backs for long periods of time so it can make dental treatment more difficult. However in such emergency cases such as root canals or extractions, treatments can be done at any stage when necessary.

Which Medications are safe during Dental work while pregnant?
Dentists commonly use the injection of local anesthetics during dental procedures. The most common Local anesthetic is lidocaine. Lidocaine is a category B drug which states that it is safe to take during pregnancy. The Journal of the American Dental Association states that there is no evidence to show that dental treatment with anesthetics is harmful during pregnancy. However, Local anesthesia should be kept to a minimum as long as the patient is comfortable and not feeling any pain. In return this causes less stress on you and the baby. After some dental procedures the Dentist might prescribe you Antibiotics. The most common antibiotics prescribed are penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin. These are labeled category B for safety during pregnancy.

Is Dental x-ray exposure during pregnancy safe?
X-rays are necessary to diagnose many dental procedures as well as emergency cases. According to the ADA and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), having dental x-rays during your pregnancy is considered safe with appropriate shielding.

Written by Asghar Khan BDS, RDA