When you are pregnant, you have a million different concerns: Should I drink that cup of coffee? Should I get my eyes checked? What can I eat, and what can’t I eat? What doctor appointments do I absolutely have to make? For many, there’s another question on that list: How does pregnancy affect your dental appointments? Should you go to the dentist at all? The answer to this question, absolutely, is yes. Going to the dentist when pregnant is safe and is a very good idea.
Is Visiting the Dentist when Pregnant Safe?
Dental work that is necessary, like taking care of cavities or crowns, should be dealt with as soon as possible. This is because failing to properly deal with these issues can lead to infections, which can have a devastating impact on a pregnant woman and the fetus.
However, be warned: Some points in the pregnancy may be easier than others to visit the dentist. It varies from person to person, of course, but visiting the dentist in your third trimester may be difficult, as a heavily pregnant woman may experience discomfort lying down for extended periods of time in a somewhat uncomfortable position. Many women suffer from morning sickness, which is typically a problem experienced in the first trimester, and having your mouth poked, prodded, and cleaned may be deeply uncomfortable during this time. As such, the second trimester is the ideal time for a pregnant woman to visit the dentist.
There is another reason that the second trimester is the best time to visit the dentist. According to the Mayo Clinic, research has been done which shows that women who have dental work done in the 2nd trimester do not have any additional birth problems when compared to women who don’t. Furthermore, at this point in the pregnancy, a fetus’ organs have been developed, thus reducing the risk for any other problems.
It is important to note that the need for immediate treatment for any dental problem – like an infection, cavity or other problem – outweigh any of the risks, regardless of when in the pregnancy a problem occurs. Remember, a mouth or dental problem can turn into an infection, and this can present a major risk to a pregnant woman or her fetus.
Can Pregnancy Increase My Risk of Certain Tooth or Gum Problems?
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: as noted by many experts, visiting the dentist while pregnant is not only safe but a recommended appointment. This is because pregnancy can cause a wide array of hormonal changes. These changes can affect many parts of a pregnant woman’s body, including her teeth, gums, and mouth. Gums become more likely to bleed, swell and trap food, potentially leading to tooth problems or other health issues.
Furthermore, there are other mouth and dental issues that pregnant women are particularly susceptible to. These include:
- Pregnancy gingivitis: The increased chance of a pregnant woman suffering from gingivitis, a relatively common gum disorder that may cause your mouth and gums to crack and bleed. These can lead to more serious issues, and this is why it is better to see a dentist and get it treated sooner, rather than later.
- Tooth decay: As noted above, many women are more likely to suffer from hormonal changes as a direct result of their pregnancy. This can potentially lead to an increased chance of suffering from tooth decay. This is also more likely to occur as a result of changes in diet, an increase in cravings, and morning sickness that may make your mouth endure more acid.
- Pregnancy tumors on the gum: As if pregnancy didn’t cause enough changes to your body, some women suffer from “pregnancy tumors.” These are small swellings or bumps that occur on the gums of a pregnant woman and most likely to appear during the second trimester. An estimated 5% of all pregnant women ultimately suffer from this condition. It is normally not serious, but always worth ensuring that a dentist checks out these problems to ensure that there are no broader issues or potential dental complications.
What Precautions Should You Take?
Generally speaking, there is nothing you need to worry about once you go to the dentist. You should let your hygenist and dentist know that you are pregnant, of course. This will ensure that they are mindful of your physical comfort and that they don’t give you any drugs or treatments which may have side effects with your pregnancy.
You should tell your dentist and hygenist if you think that there is even a possibility that you are pregnant, as it may alter their treatment of you. Furthermore, make sure to tell your dentist how far along in the pregnancy you are, if you have experienced any complications, and if you are on any medications related to the pregnancy.
Pregnancy, of course, is a wonderful and exciting time, but it is also a moment where a woman should ensure that she is doing everything she can to take care of herself. This unquestionably includes seeing a dentist.