After becoming pregnant, expecting mothers begin to take a lot of their routine activities into account: diet, exercise, and medical treatments all become factors in what’s best for both mother and child. However, it’s also best to understand just how comprehensive the effects of pregnancy are, as they can impact a person’s dental habits. At our Knoxville dental practice, we want our patients to receive top-of-the-line care that is individualized for their needs, including even the most basic general dentistry services. If you or a loved one are pregnant, take the following information into consideration so that the following months can go as smoothly and safely as possible.
Pregnancy’s Effect on Periodontal Health
While pregnant, a woman’s increased hormone level is known to interfere with gum health. Specifically, women are more susceptible to gum disease while pregnant, even if they normally maintain good dental hygiene habits. For this reason, pregnant women should be extra diligent in their hygiene and professional dental care. Gum disease may not only affect dental health, but has also been linked to a handful of systemic diseases such as heart and liver disease. If you exhibit any signs of gum disease, such as reddened, bleeding, or swollen gums, schedule an exam with your dentist to ensure proper periodontal care. Throughout your pregnancy, be sure to brush and floss diligently while maintaining a healthy diet. Additionally, schedule a professional cleaning before your pregnancy or during a time your dentist and doctor deem safe.
Dental Care during Pregnancy
During the first trimester, when the baby’s growth and development is especially important, any dental work should be postponed. Depending on the type of work and what it involves, it may need to be performed in the coming months or after the pregnancy altogether. Although regular cleanings should not pose any threat to the baby, it is generally recommended that any non-emergency treatments be avoided at this time. An exam may still be worthwhile, however, to ensure your teeth and gums are reasonably healthy in the foreseeable future.
If you require restorative dentistry, such as dental fillings or root canal therapy, you should speak with your dentist as soon as possible. The severity of infection can be determined, and if you need to undergo treatment during pregnancy, you and your dentist can decide when is safest for the baby. In most cases, the second trimester is a relatively safe time for such treatment.
What Should Be Avoided?
By definition, elective dental treatments are unnecessary and should therefore be postponed until after pregnancy. Even if cosmetic treatments like teeth whitening or dental bonding pose little risk, there is no reason to subject a pregnant woman and her child to any sort treatment as long as it can wait.
More importantly, pregnant women should be wary of potential dangers at the dentist’s office. Specifically, X-rays and certain medications may alter the development a child. If X-ray images are essential, the dentist will take every precaution to minimize the amount of X-ray exposure. If you require medication for an emergency procedure, let your dentist know about any other medications or supplements you are currently prescribed. Category B antibiotics, such as penicillin, are considered safe during pregnancy, although nothing should be taken without careful consideration by your dentist or doctor.
Take the following steps during pregnancy to safeguard your health and the health of your child:
- Let your dentist know you’re pregnant as soon as you come in for a visit or beforehand.
- If you suffer from morning sickness, speak with your dentist about switching toothpaste brands or using a mouth rinse to keep your teeth protected from stomach acid.
- Some antibiotics, such as tetracycline, may result in tooth discoloration of a child when taken by the mother. Speak with your dentist about any medications you are prescribed.
- If you are far along in your pregnancy, consider bringing a pillow or other items to aid in your comfort while sitting in the dentist chair.
- Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet throughout your pregnancy.
Contact Us for More Information
Successful pregnancies begin with informed parents. For more information on what you can do to keep your child healthy while maintaining your own dental health, contact our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Zarger.